During a March 23 press conference at the White House, President Donald Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that will fund the federal government, including the FAA, through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The omnibus bill also includes an FAA extension through Sept. 30. The current FAA extension was set to expire on March 31.
The bill allocates $18 billion to the FAA—an increase of $1.6 billion from the 2017 enacted level of $16.4 billion. It provides $1.3 billion for NextGen programs, which is an increase of $239 million. The bill also provides $165 million for the federal contract tower program and $100 million to integrate drone policies.
The FAA extension to Sept. 30 will give lawmakers time to hash out differences for a long-term, multi-year agency reauthorization. Controversial provisions have kept long-term FAA reauthorization from coming to fruition—most notably the push to “privatize” air traffic control operations. But after nearly two years and stiff opposition, the proposal was abandoned earlier this year.
House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), have both indicated plans to pass a long-term FAA funding reauthorization following this extension.
“Aviation is a cornerstone of the American economy, and modernizing our nation’s air traffic control system and investing in our nation’s airports are vital to protecting our aviation ecosystem and ensuring our skies remain the safest in the world,” said AOPA President Mark Baker.