FAA Reauthorization Bill Still Faces an Uphill Battle
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee late last week approved H.R.915 to reauthorize the FAA through 2012. It is similar to the one that died in the Senate after being passed by the House last year. The House Ways and Means Committee still needs to set up the funding mechanisms for the FAA, but Transportation Committee chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) is confident that the FAA will be funded by a mix of fuel tax increases similar to those included in the House bill last year. This would mean no aviation user fees in the House bill, despite the Obama Administration’s call for such fees in the 2010 federal budget, which was also released last week. However, there are several provisions that could delay passage in the full House, including ones requiring foreign repair stations to be inspected every two years and binding contract arbitration between the FAA and air traffic controllers. Senate committees have yet even to propose a companion FAA bill. The FAA is currently being authorized under temporary extensions, the latest of which expires at the end of this month. At a hearing last week, Oberstar said he would accept another six-month extension, which would keep the FAA operating until September 30, the end of the current fiscal year.