January 24, 2012 By Keith Laing
The House approved an extension of the Federal Aviation Administration’s funding Tuesday that avoids a shutdown of the beleaguered agency while lawmakers finalize a longer bill.
The measure, which was approved on a voice vote after little debate, will be the 23rd short-term extension of the FAA’s funding since 2007 if it is approved by the Senate before Jan. 31, which is expected.
Supporters of the FAA funding have decried the short-term extensions as being harmful to the maintenance of the national aviation system, but lawmakers argued Tuesday’s measure would be the last one.
“If we want to see Americans back to work we’ll pass this legislation by the 17th of February, and then we’ll come back in the next week or two and we will pass a long-term infrastructure transportation measure,” House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said before the vote.
Mica and other Republican leaders, who have argued for months that the FAA’s run of short-term extensions has gone on too long, have said the latest extension that was approved Tuesday was necessary for lawmakers to finalize a deal reached last week on a multi-year measure.
The House and Senate reached an agreement on labor election rules for transportation workers that held up a longer-term funding bill for the FAA for the better part of a year.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said Tuesday that while there are other issues remaining that need to be resolved on the long-term bill, they are confident that the agreement on the labor provision would clear the runway for the multi-year FAA bill.
“I rise in favor of doing something I’m usually not in favor in, and that’s kick the can down the road,” Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) said before the vote. “This time as we kick the can down the road, we actually see the end of the road.” The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Aviation subcommittee, Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.), similarly called the extension of FAA funding through Feb. 17 a “prudent precaution.”
Republican leaders in the House have said the GOP hopes to complete work on the long-term FAA bill before the mid-February expiration of the short-term FAA bill. They have said the compromise bill would fund the FAA for four years.
Source: THE HILL