The U.S. Congress returns from its month-long break today with only a few weeks left to complete several major bills, including FAA reauthorization and numerous appropriations bills. With the FAA’s authorization set to expire September 30, lawmakers are believed to be mulling a possible six-month extension while negotiations continue on a longer-term bill.
An extension may be necessary since Congress has scheduled only about a dozen legislative days in September, leaving little time for debate on a comprehensive bill. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has provided initial details of the bill, but had pushed off release of the bill until at least September. But now the committee is immersed in negotiations with the Senate over comprehensive highway reauthorization, providing even less time for FAA reauthorization.
In addition, lawmakers are headed for a showdown over appropriations, with a dispute about Planned Parenthood funding raising the prospect of a government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins October 1. Congress had made some progress on the FY2016 transportation appropriations bill, which passed the House and cleared through the Senate Commerce Committee. But with little time left this month and a number of appropriations bills outstanding, Congress is expected to lump the various appropriations bills together, which means they all could get held up by the Planned Parenthood debate. If agreement is not reached, a short-term extension is anticipated.