Would Keep Agency Funded Into March 2009
The Federal Aviation
Administration will continue to operate, thanks to a short-term
funding extension passed Tuesday by the US House of
Representatives... but any hope for true reauthorization of the
agency's agenda, and the money the FAA maintains it needs to
implement it, will remain out of reach at least into early
According to Congressional Quarterly, the extension -- passed by
voice vote -- will extend the FAA's current level of funding
through March 31 of next year. That takes the measure out of the
current 110th Congress' purview, forcing the next Congress to help
hammer out a new plan with the next presidential
"In order to continue to provide essential safety and capacity
improvement funds to our airports we must pass this extension,"
said Illinois Congressman Jerry Costello, chairman of the House
Transportation and Infrastructure Aviation Subcommittee. Without
the extension, funding for the aviation agency would expire at the
end of this month.
The fact that FAA reauthorization stalled isn't the House's
As ANN reported, representatives passed their
own FAA reauthorization plan, H.R. 2881, in September 2007.
That placed the legislative burden on the Senate, which sent its
version of the FAA bill to the floor for consideration in late
April of this year. Debate on S.1300 came to a screeching halt soon
thereafter, however, after lawmakers clashed over an amendment
setting stricter rules for airline contributions to their employee
When debate to end that loophole was dropped, attention turned
to a slew of unrelated riders lawmakers attempted to attach to the
bill, including a call to boost highway spending.
The resulting squabbling over such unrelated add-ons
effectively killed the measure; proponents of
the bill were unable to attain the 60 votes necessary to end the
political wrangling, and to send the funding plan onto the Senate
Both the House and Senate bills included increases to the
general aviation fuel tax to provide additional funding each year
for continued transformation toward a satellite-based aviation
system, also known as "NextGen." What the bills didn't include --
and what many lawmakers wanted -- were 'gimmes' for the airlines,
in the forms of higher passenger fees.
Tuesday's action was the third such extension to current FAA
funding levels, since the Senate killed the bill in May.