Bill Still To Be Considered In The U.S. Senate
It's another chapter in the
seemingly never-ending saga of the FAA re-authoriztion bill. With a
voice vote Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved HR 4217
to extend current Federal aviation programs and taxes through the
end of March, 2010.
Passage of the “Fiscal Year 2010 Federal Aviation
Administration Extension Act, Part II,” gives the House and
Senate additional time to act on a multi-year authorization
package. The current authorization was set to expire in 2007, but
has been extended several times. The current extension is due to
expire December 31, when Congress will be out of session.
"Although the House passed an FAA reauthorization bill last
Congress, the Senate did not, resulting in the need for a series of
short-term extension acts that, unfortunately, continues to this
day," said Representative James Oberstar (D-MN) Chair of the House
Transportation Committee. "(T)he Other Body has been unable to
complete action on a long-term FAA reauthorization bill. Given that
the current authority for aviation programs expires on December 31,
an extension of current law is necessary to continue financing of
aviation programs until a multi-year reauthorization bill can be
completed. H.R. 4217 provides a three-month extension of aviation
programs, through March 31, 2010."
Representative Jerry Costello (D-IL), Chair of the Aviation
Subcommittee, echoed Oberstar's comments. "The FAA has been
operating under a string of short-term extensions for over two
years since the last FAA reauthorization bill expired," he said in
the well of the House. "Short-term extensions and uncertain funding
levels can be disruptive to the aviation industry and communities
because they do not allow them to plan for long-term growth.
Frankly, every month that goes by without a long-term FAA
authorization is a lost opportunity to improve aviation safety,
security, and to create and maintain jobs around the country."
The previous long-term FAA
reauthorization act, the Vision 100–Century of Aviation
Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-176) expired on September 30, 2007.
The House passed H.R. 915, the “FAA Reauthorization Act of
2009”, which reauthorizes FAA programs for fiscal years (FY)
2010 through 2012, on May 21, 2009.
H.R. 4217 provides $2 billion in contract authority for the
Airport Improvement Program (AIP) through the end of March. This $2
billion will enable airports to move forward with important safety
and capacity projects. When annualized, this level of AIP funding
equals $4 billion, which is consistent with both the House and
Senate FAA reauthorization bills, and the FY 2010 Concurrent Budget
The bill also authorizes appropriations for FAA Operations,
Facilities and Equipment (F&E), and Research, Engineering, and
Development (RE&D) programs, consistent with average funding
levels of the FY 2010 House-approved appropriations bill and the
Senate-approved appropriations bill.
In addition, H.R. 4217 extends the aviation excise taxes through
March 31, 2010. These taxes are necessary to support the Airport
and Airway Trust Fund, which funds a substantial portion of the
FAA’s budget. With an uncommitted cash balance of just $251
million at the end of FY 2009, any lapse in the aviation taxes
could put the solvency of the Trust Fund at risk.
In addition to extending the aviation taxes, H.R. 4217 extends
the FAA’s authority to make expenditures from the Airport and
Airway Trust Fund through March 2010.