Another short-term extension of the FAA’s current funding is expected as FAA reauthorization legislation is further delayed in the House.
On Feb. 25, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said he would move forward with a short-term funding extension for the FAA. The announcement effectively sidelines the controversial AIRR Act, H.R. 4441, which would privatize air traffic control functions. In a statement, Shuster said that he will “continue working to educate members and address questions they have about the bill.”
That decision leaves the Senate to offer legislation of its own.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) has said he hopes the committee will consider a Senate FAA reauthorization bill sometime in the next couple of weeks, and get floor time in April, Politico reported. Although Thune has not given details of exactly what the legislation would include, he told Bloomberg BNA it won’t contain any plan to privatize the FAA. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Commerce Committee, has said he does not support separating air traffic control from the FAA.
“There’s a great deal of negotiation and discussion going on right now in both the House and the Senate over the future of the FAA,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “At this point, no one can say what final legislation will look like, but our members can be assured we’ll continue to fight against user fees and for a system that protects all segments of general aviation.”
Privatization has been a lightning rod in the House legislation, which has raised questions on all fronts. And the measure was further delayed earlier in the week when Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over taxes, formally asked that the Committee have the opportunity to review the AIRR Act before it goes to the full House for a vote.
In addition to privatization and associated user fees, the bill passed out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Feb. 11 also contains third class medical reform and certification reform. It is not yet clear whether a Senate bill would also include those reforms.
The Senate has passed standalone legislation to reform the third class medical process. A similar bill has also been introduced in the House, but no vote has yet been scheduled.