HAI has learned the U.S. House of Representatives could vote as early as Tuesday, March 17 to take up a measure to extend the Federal Aviation Administration’s authorization through the end of the fiscal year.
The draft bill is scheduled to be considered under suspension of the rules, and should clear the way for quick passage by the Senate. The bill will focus only on extending the authorization and not other policy issues.
The FAA has been operating under a series of short-term extensions since October 2007, the most recent of which (PL 110-330) expires at the end of March.
The Senate Commerce Committee Chairman, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, D-West Virginia has said he wants an extension with the same time frame as the House’s bill.
If enacted, the extension would give lawmakers an extra six months to come up with a four-year reauthorization bill to rework FAA policy matters. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a $70 billion bill (HR 915) on March 9 that would reauthorize the FAA through 2012.
It remains unclear whether lawmakers will be able to complete consideration of a larger bill, given uncertainties about what may be contained in the Obama administration’s version. The Obama administration is expected to send its draft FAA reauthorization to Capitol Hill around the same time as it sends its detailed proposal for the entire federal budget, which is expected in April.
The broad budget guidelines that President Obama released last month suggested that the administration may reopen a battle that most thought had been put to rest last year. It proposes to eliminate $7.2 billion in unspecified aviation excise taxes and replace them with “direct user charges.” This situation has raised considerable alarm in the general aviation industry because details on which excise taxes the administration wants to get rid of, and what sort of user fees they would be replaced with, have not yet been detailed.
HAI will continue to closely track this legislation and work with leaders on Capitol Hill on this issue.
Source: HELICOPTER ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL