Today, Congressman Burgess Owens (UT-04) delivered the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, before the House Committee on Rules, advocating for his compromise solution to the DCA perimeter rule debate. The Owens Amendment adds 7 within- and beyond-perimeter flights to increase supply and competition, lower ticket prices, and save consumers hard-earned dollars.
“Mr. Chair, Ranking Member, and distinguished members of this committee thank you for this opportunity to testify on my amendment #356 to H.R. 3935.
“This amendment is simple. It adds an additional seven roundtrip flights from Ronald Reagan National Airport. That equates to one route for each airline currently operating out of DCA. Not 28 routes, as was originally requested. Not 14, which was a reasonable compromise, but seven, one route for each carrier.
“What is the result of each carrier having one route? It mitigates the high-cost millions of Americans must budget to visit our national capital.
“This modest growth represents only a 2% increase in air traffic in and out of DCA. It’s purely additive, poses no threat to existing services, and maintains all existing flight routes. This, by the way, is spelled out clearly in the amendment. I quote, ‘This amendment prohibits eliminating any present services when adding beyond perimeter flights.’
“A nearly 60-year-old, federally-imposed perimeter rule has made Washington Reagan one of the most expensive airports in the country. It’s also the only airport in our nation that has been sheltered from the benefits of the free market by DC legislators. Those free market benefits of competition and meritocracy can be seen in every other sector of our society. It grants the American consumer the best prices, convenience, and value.
“This bipartisan effort will begin to modernize the arbitrary, protectionist federal policies put in place for the economic protection of one airport and one airline. Our solution will instead put the focus and priority on the American Consumer, the millions of our constituents, families, elementary and high school students, small business owners, and other DC visitors who have been priced out for years of the option to visit, learn, and redress their representatives in the nation’s capital.
“We have an opposition that seeks to protect the status quo. That 60-year-old status quo is anti-consumer, by its nature, as a monopoly seeks to stifle competition and sends a clear message back home to the American consumer: We are determined to keep our choices low, which will translate to you as keeping your flight tickets high.
“I’d like to highlight some facts about my amendment.:
“Recent studies show DCA has enough capacity to handle as many as 90 additional flights per day. This amendment adds only 7.
“Due to technological advancements and previous FAA authorizations, the number of Americans subjected to significant aviation noise exposure has decreased by 94% from when the 1970s perimeter rule was first established. And due to American innovation. We’re just getting started.
“Allegations that this amendment benefits any one airline over another are patently false, as this amendment benefits all airlines operating out of DCA equally. Each carrier will win an additional route. The biggest winner will be the American consumer.
“History has shown us the transformative power of compromise, and this bipartisan solution – agreed upon by both sides – is indeed transformative.
“Every American should have the opportunity to visit their nation’s capital and witness their government in action. This body should aggressively pursue opportunities to increase access for our constituents while working to decrease costs.
“I urge this committee to support our compromise and open the doors of Washington, DC, to every citizen of this great country. Thank you, again, for this opportunity, and I yield back.”