The U.S. House of Representatives tonight passed the federal legislation preserving Meigs Field for another 25 years ( H.R.3479). The bill was passed under suspension of the rules led by House Speaker Dennis Hastert himself. "We're pleased that the legislation has begun to move forward," commented AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Meigs Field is a landmark for pilots across the nation. Like the rest of the GA community, I'm gratified to see Congress addressing the issue."
The legislation was protected from amendment on the House floor, using a fast-track procedure that required a two-thirds majority. The final vote was 343-87.
The bill, which also provides for the expansion of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and the construction of a new airport at Peotone, suffered a setback on June 16 when the votes needed for passage under suspension of the rules fell short. Concerns over strengthened environmental language for Chicago O'Hare Airport expansion and objections by Illinois congressmen Henry Hyde (R) and Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D) played a major role in the defeat. Although Senator Durbin, sponsor of the Senate bill ( S.2039), expects no action on the legislation before the August recess, Senate Majority Leader Daschle has pledged to pass the Senate version of the bill by year's end.