Congressmen Cohen Welcomes Senator Blumenthal’s Announcement to Offer Seat-Size Amendment to FAA Reauthorization

March 7, 2016
Press Release

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today welcomed Senator Richard Blumenthal’s (D-CT) announcement that he will offer an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill when it’s considered before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to require the FAA to adopt minimum seat-size standards for commercial airlines, and work with Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to help advance this issue in the Senate. Congressman Cohen, a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee, is the author of bipartisan legislation in the House, the Seat Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act (H.R. 4490), that would require the FAA to establish minimum seat size and minimum distances between rows of seats to protect the safety and health of airline passengers.

“I would like to thank Senators Blumenthal and Schumer for their commitment to protecting the safety and health of the flying public,” said Congressman Cohen. “Higher profits must never come at the expense of safety.  Planes need to be capable of rapid evacuation in case of emergency, yet appropriate testing has not been done on all of today’s smaller seats.  In addition, doctors have warned that deep vein thrombosis can afflict passengers who don’t move their legs during longer flights.  The time to examine the safety implications of smaller seats is now, not after some future tragedy.”

On February 11, 2016, the Congressman offered the SEAT Act as an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Bill while it was being considered by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  Despite bipartisan support for the Cohen amendment, it failed by a vote of 26-33.  Upon its defeat, Congressman Cohen announced that he would try to offer it again as an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Bill when the bill comes to the House floor.

Congress is working to renew authorization for the FAA with the current authority set to expire on March 31, 2016.

Recent press coverage of the SEAT Act can be found at: NY Times; Chicago TribuneCBS Evening NewsCBS Morning NewsNBC’s Today Show; Washington Post; USA TodayWashington PostCNN

Congressman Cohen’s Op-Ed on this issue was recently published in USA Today. You can read his Op-Ed here.