Long-term FAA bill deferred to 2010

December 10, 2009

The House and Senate have passed another three-month funding extension for the FAA.

The FAA has been operating under temporary extensions since its last long-term authorization expired in 2007. The current extension is due to expire Dec. 31, when Congress will be out of session. The House passed a three-year reauthorization in May, but the Senate has yet to pass a long-term bill.

Both the long-term bill the House passed in May and the one under consideration in the Senate would fund the FAA through aviation fuel taxes, ticket taxes, and a general fund contribution. AOPA supports this method of funding the FAA and maintains that a long-term funding package offers the best assurance of achieving air transportation system modernization swiftly and efficiently.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.) and aviation subcommittee chairman Jerry F. Costello (D-Ill.) spoke on the House floor before the voice vote Dec. 8 about the necessity of the bill in order for FAA programs to continue uninterrupted. The need to pass a long-term authorization is evident.

“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,” Costello said in his prepared remarks. “Frankly, every month that goes by without a long-term FAA authorization is a lost opportunity to improve aviation safety, security, and to create and maintain jobs around the country.”

The short-term extension, the eighth of its kind, extends funding and expenditure authority for the FAA through March 31. The Senate passed the extension on Dec. 10, and the bill now awaits the president's signature.

More than a third of the Senate wrote to the president in November to express the importance of passing a long-term FAA funding bill before the end of the year, but the body’s late-year health care debate will likely push the bill into next year.