Congress OKs short-term FAA reauthorization

 - December 23, 2009, 6:06 AM

With another deadline looming in the FAA reauthorization contretemps, Congress last month voted to temporarily authorize funding and spending for FAA programs, through March 31.

This was the eighth short-term extension since the last long-term FAA  reauthorization act expired on Sept. 30, 2007. The House of Representatives passed a new three-year reauthorization in May, but the Senate did not take similar action before the end of the current session of Congress on December 31, when the previous extension would have expired.

More than a third of the Senate wrote to President Obama in November about the importance of passing a long-term FAA funding bill, but the health-care debate has pushed discussion into this year. Earlier, a bipartisan group of lawmakers urged Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to move S.1451 to the Senate floor for vote.

Both the long-term bill in the House and the one under consideration in the Senate would fund the FAA through aviation fuel taxes, ticket taxes and a General Fund contribution. Before the House vote to extend funding and expenditure authority for the FAA through March 31, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chair- man James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and aviation subcommittee chairman Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) spoke on the House floor about the necessity of a long-term  reauthorization.

“Short-term extensions and uncertain funding levels can be disruptive to the aviation industry and communities because they do not allow them to plan for long-term growth. Every month that goes by without a long-term FAA reauthorization is a lost opportunity to improve aviation safety and security and to create and maintain jobs around the country,” said Costello.