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Senate committee approves NTSB reauthorization

The Senate Commerce Committee voted in favor of S. 2202, which reauthorizes the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) at an average level of $113.4 million through 2023 and mandates several reforms to modernize and improve transparency in the agency.

   The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation on Dec. 13 approved legislation reforming and reauthorizing the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) through 2023.
   The bipartisan National Transportation Safety Board Reauthorization Act (S. 2202) was sponsored by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
   The legislation reauthorizes the NTSB at an average level of $113.4 million through fiscal year 2023, and mandates several reforms to modernize and improve transparency in the safety agency’s investigations, recommendations, and board member discussions.
   Highlights of the reforms in the proposed reauthorization include adding still images to items the NTSB may disclose during an investigation in order to increase transparency to the public about the circumstances of accidents.
   The bill also improves information sharing by closing loopholes that allowed for the release of confidential information by other federal agencies obtained during NTSB investigations. Additionally, it requires the NTSB to better document its data collection and evaluation process underlying safety recommendations. 
   Proponents say the legislation promotes collaboration and communication between NTSB members by allowing a majority of members to meet privately and discuss official business via strong disclosure requirements.
   The NTSB, which investigates all civil aviation accident in the United States and significant railroad, highway, marine and pipeline accidents, was last reauthorized in 2006. The Commerce, Science & Transportation Commerce committee exercises legislative jurisdiction over matters pertaining to the agency.

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