Executive order follows the lawmakers’ March letter urging the DOT to undo Trump-era rule that hamstrings aviation consumer protection
Washington (July 12, 2021) -- Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) released the following statement regarding President Joseph R. Biden’s directive, as part of his Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to start development of proposed amendments to the definitions of “unfair” and “deceptive” practices under the agency’s aviation consumer protection statute.
“During the Trump administration, the Department of Transportation finalized an ill-advised rule to narrow what counts as an ‘unfair’ or ‘deceptive’ airline business practice. This rule needlessly restricted the agency's own authority to protect air travelers from harm and abuse – at a time when consumer complaints have skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic,” said the lawmakers in a joint statement. “That’s why we jointly wrote to Secretary Buttigieg earlier this year, urging the agency’s new leadership to overturn this dangerous policy and work instead to enhance consumer protection in the skies. We applaud President Biden’s decision to instruct the DOT to look again at its authority, and we encourage the administration to empower the agency to better address urgent consumer protection issues in aviation. We stand ready to work with the Biden administration to achieve these goals.”

This March, the lawmakers sent a letter to the DOT, urging the agency to overturn an ill-advised rule — finalized in the waning days of the Trump administration — that needlessly restricts the DOT’s own authority to protect air travelers from harm and abuse. Specifically, the lawmakers’ letter requests that the DOT undo a rule that created new, narrower definitions for what counts as an “unfair” and “deceptive” business practice under the DOT’s aviation consumer protection statute, which authorizes the agency to investigate and take action against airline policies that harm consumers.