Hoeven: THUD Appropriations Bill Invests in UAS Operations, North Dakota Transportation Infrastructure

Senator Worked to Ensure Bill Delays ELD Rule for Livestock Haulers, Expands Commercial Flight Training Opportunities for Veterans

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week helped advance the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations legislation, which:

  • Supports the safe integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the national airspace.
  • Invests in North Dakota’s transportation infrastructure.
  • Includes a delay of the electronic logging device (ELD) rule for truckers hauling livestock.
  • Provides flight training opportunities for veterans interested in commercial aviation.

“This legislation contains important priorities for North Dakota, from advancing the next generation of aviation technology to helping producers efficiently and humanely transport their livestock by delaying the ELD rule,” said Hoeven. “The UAS funding will support UND, our test site and companies at Grand Sky as they develop applications for this technology and safely integrate it into our airspace. This legislation also funds critical infrastructure projects throughout our state, like the Williston Basin International Airport, repairs to highways and bridges and maintaining safe and reliable air service for communities both large and small. Finally, we’ve included a pilot program similar to my American Aviator Act, which will expand commercial flight training opportunities for veterans.”            

Hoeven helped secure approval of the legislation by the Senate Appropriations Committee this week, sending it to the full Senate for consideration. As a member of the THUD Appropriations Committee, the senator worked to ensure the inclusion of the following priorities:

UAS Integration

  • $6 million in matching funds for companies that work with UAS test sites, including the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, to demonstrate or validate technologies essential to integrating unmanned aircraft into the national airspace.
  • $12 million for the UAS Center of Excellence, which is co-led by the University of North Dakota.

North Dakota Infrastructure

  • $1.25 billion for a Rural Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program, which will provide robust funding for bridges in North Dakota.
  • Fully funds the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which supports ongoing critical capital improvements at airports in North Dakota. This includes:
    • $450 million for supplemental discretionary AIP grants, which fund projects at small, non-hub airports.
    • Hoeven’s language to fast-track funding for airport relocations where existing locations do not allow for expansion, like the new Williston Basin International Airport. The senator’s efforts have helped secure a total of $107.8 million for the project to date.
    • Hoeven-sponsored language directing the FAA to consider the full range of flight activities, like pilot training at Grand Forks International Airport, when awarding AIP discretionary grants.
  • Funds the Highway Trust Fund at FAST Act levels and provides $1 billion for the BUILD grant program, formerly called TIGER grants, to support regionally-significant infrastructure projects.
  • Maintains the Essential Air Service (EAS) program to ensure air carriers continue to serve smaller communities, like Devils Lake, Dickinson and Jamestown. 
  • Provides $10 million for the Small Community Air Service Development Program to help small airports expand new air service and new destinations for flights from airports in North Dakota. 

 Veteran Flight Training Pilot Program

  • Includes $1 million for a pilot program to provide opportunities for veterans interested in pilot training programs. Similar to the American Aviator Act, which Senator Hoeven introduced last Congress, this funding will provide for competitive grants to schools, such as at the University of North Dakota, that have established employment pathways to commercial air carriers to provide flight training services to veterans.