Democratic U.S. Reps. Rick Nolan and Tim Walz are backing a bill that would ban cell phone calls during flights.
Nolan and Walz were among members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who voted to send the bill to the full House today. It was unclear when it would be considered there.
The House bill would prohibit passengers from making calls while airplanes are in the air, despite a recent ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that such calls would not interfere with telephone systems that are on the ground.
Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican, introduced the House bill in December. Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison signed on as a co-sponsor soon after.
Walz’s staff said he backs Shuster’s “tap, don’t talk” approach: prohibit phone in-flight cell phone calls, but allow passenger to use their mobile devices to surf the Internet, e-mail and text.
Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate.
The FCC's proposal would allow airlines to decide whether to permit the calls, but the bills in Congress would mandate an industry-wide ban. The bills include exceptions for flight crews and federal air marshals.