House and Senate leaders appear to have reached agreement on a multi-year funding plan for FAA spending and programs. Intransigence across both sides of the political aisle has been instrumental in blocking long-term FAA reauthorization, which led to a partial shutdown of the agency for about two weeks last summer.
A major sticking point in the FAA bill’s passage has centered on union voting rules, and this now seems to be ironed out. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) say their deal makes it easier for airline employees, specifically at Delta, to unionize.
Congressional aides said work remains on several smaller parts of the FAA bill and will require yet another temporary extension. The agency has been operating under a series of temporary extensions since the last FAA reauthorization bill expired in 2007, with the latest one set to expire next Tuesday.
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, introduced a 23rd short-term extension bill late yesterday that would continue FAA funding and programs through February 17. “I agreed to bring up this extension to provide the time necessary to complete work on a few remaining issues and comply with notification requirements for considering legislation,” he said. The House approved this extension by voice vote this afternoon; Senate action was pending at press time.