A new Congress convenes Jan. 5 to face an agenda packed with pressing aviation policy and funding issues, including long-overdue FAA reauthorization legislation and fiscal year 2011 appropriations for all federal departments and agencies.
These and other legislative initiatives face an uncertain path forward through a divided Congress, with Republicans in control of the House, and with the Senate operating with a Democratic majority.
On the FAA reauthorization front, lawmakers at the end of 2010 approved yet another short-term extension of FAA programs and taxes through March 31, 2011, giving the new Congress a narrow window to approve a multi-year bill. While it is possible for Congress to complete a long-term bill in the opening months of 2011, doing so will be difficult.
In addition to having to resolve some of the thorny issues that have made completion of FAA reauthorization challenging over the past several years, the new Congress must start at the beginning of the process with the reintroduction and consideration of legislative proposals.
AAAE’s Airport Legislative Alliance continues to press for a multi-year bill that boosts airport infrastructure investment and that avoids controversial proposed aircraft rescue and fire fighting standards.
Lawmakers will also be active in the early part of 2011 trying to fund the federal government for the remainder of the current fiscal year that runs through Sept. 30. The previous Congress failed to approve any of the 12 annual appropriations bills for the federal government, leaving all departments and agencies operating under the terms of a temporary funding measure that expires March 4.
Given the intense focus on reining in federal spending, all programs, including AIP and others important to airports, are facing increased scrutiny. Many Republicans are calling for a return to 2008 spending levels for domestic discretionary spending, which would necessitate government-wide cuts of more than $100 billion in fiscal year 2011.
Source: AVIATION NEWS TODAY