Rep. Nancy Mace files bill requiring Buttigieg to fly commercial until FAA, Southwest debacles resolved

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., filed a bill Wednesday that would require Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his staff to fly commercial until a Southwest Airlines debacle and a Federal Aviation Administration computer glitch that caused thousands of flight cancelations Wednesday were fully investigated and resolved.

The bill, Commercial Cabins for Cabinet Members, "would require the Secretary of Transportation to only fly commercial, just like every other American, until the FAA reauthorization is completed," Mace said in a statement announcing the bill. "This should provide enough time to investigate Southwest and the FAA."

Nancy Mace
FILE: Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) speaks to reporters following a closed-door GOP caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol January 10, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Mace, who is a Republican member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, castigated Buttigieg for having flown "approximately 20 times" in the past six months.

"So, until the issues with Southwest and the FAA are investigated and resolved, he and his staff, should be required to fly commercial just live every other American," she said.

FAA HAS OPERATED WITHOUT A SENATE-CONFIRMED DIRECTOR FOR NEARLY A YEAR

A DOT spokesperson told Fox News Digital that 111 of Buttigieg's 129 flights for his DOT trips have been commercial, given that it is the cheapest way to fly.

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"However, there are specific instances where the DOT Ethics Office approves use of the 9-seat FAA plane when it is more efficient and/or less expensive way for the Secretary and accompanying personnel to travel," the spokesperson said. "This approach has saved taxpayer dollars."

Thousands of flights were canceled or delayed Wednesday after a computer that generates alerts called NOTAMS – or Notice to Air Missions – to pilots broke down. The breakdown has revealed how much American air travel depends on an antiquated computer system.

"There was a systems issue overnight that led to a ground stop because of the way safety information was moving through the system," Buttigieg told a news conference. Although the problem was soon fixed, he warned that travelers could expect to see some effects "rippling through the system."

Pete Buttigieg Hurrican Ian Biden Administration
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg shares the Biden administration's response to Hurricane Ian.

Buttigieg said his agency would now try to learn why the NOTAM system went down.

The FAA said later Wednesday it is continuing a "thorough review to determine the root cause of the NOTAM system outage."

"Our preliminary work has traced the outage to a damaged database file. At this time, there is no evidence of a cyberattack," the agency said in a statement. "The FAA is working diligently to further pinpoint the causes of this issue and take all needed steps to prevent this kind of disruption from happening again."

Wednesday proved merely the latest headache for travelers in the U.S. who faced weather-related flight cancelations over the holidays and a broad breakdown at Southwest Airlines.

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Passengers also ran into long lines, lost baggage, and cancelations and delays over the summer as travel demand roared back from the COVID-19 pandemic and ran into staffing cutbacks at airports and airlines in the U.S. and Europe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.