Congressman Cohen Questions Formula Used by FAA in Awarding Coronavirus-Related Airport Grants

July 29, 2021
Press Release
Demands to know why small airports received “massive windfalls”

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and its Subcommittee on Aviation, today asked the Inspector General of the U.S.  Department of Transportation for an explanation of how small airports received “massive windfalls” under last year’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act at a hearing on “Assessing the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Relief and Response Efforts and Its Impact.” He also asked the Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues in the Government Accountability Office about how much of the funding provided to large and small airports has been expended.

Congressman Cohen has been an outspoken critic of the misguided funding formula devised by the U.S. Senate and the Federal Aviation Administration that provided years’ worth of operating funding to some small airports. In a letter to FAA officials in April 2020, he questioned how McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, with far fewer flights and passengers, was set to receive more money than Memphis International Airport. In July 2020, he also sent a letter to House leadership expressing his concern and requesting that the formula be rectified in future relief packages.

See the Congressman’s entire line of questioning here.

Witnesses at today’s hearing were:

The Honorable Michael E. Horowitz, Chair, Pandemic Response Accountability Committee and Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice;

Ms. Heather Krause, Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, Government Accountability Office;

Mr. Chris Currie, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, Government Accountability Office;

The Honorable Eric J. Soskin, Inspector General, Department of Transportation;
Mr. James Izzard, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, Department of Homeland Security;

Mr. Paul Skoutelas, President & CEO, American Public Transportation Association (APTA);

Mr. Juan Ortiz, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, City of Austin, Texas -- on behalf of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM);

Dr. Michael J. Boskin, T.M. Friedman Professor of Economics and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University;

Dr. Wendy Edelberg, Ph.D., Director, The Hamilton Project, The Brookings Institution;

Mr. John Samuelsen, Transport Workers Union of America (TWU).