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Congress passes short-term FAA extension

A second short-term extension passed by Congress will push the FAA reauthorization deadline to March 8.

Photo by David Tulis.

Initially expected by September, the much-anticipated five-year reauthorization bill has been stalled since the summer because of ongoing negotiations in the Senate over provisions related to pilot training hours and retirement age.

The first extension, passed September 30, extended the authority of the FAA through the end of the year. This second extension was passed on December 20, shortly before the Senate was set to break for a holiday recess.

In July, the House version of the bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. As the most general aviation-forward reauthorization in history, the bill includes GA airport funding, workforce development initiatives, and regulatory process improvements. The decision to extend the authorization for a second time gives the Senate an additional three months to iron out amendments in committee, and for the bodies to reconcile the two versions of the bill and pass the legislation by March.

House leadership initiated the second extension and reiterated frustration for inaction on the Senate side in a joint statement from House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Garret Graves (R-La.), and Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.).

“Our long-term bipartisan bill, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act, passed the House by a wide margin nearly five months ago, but the Senate has yet to act on our bill or a bill of their own,” the December 11 statement said. “Because of the Senate’s inaction, today’s extension is necessary to ensure the continued safe operation of our aviation system. But make no mistake—the Senate must promptly act on a long-term bill, as a series of short-term extensions hamstrings FAA operations, maintains outdated policies, and fails to provide critical policy updates for aviation safety, efficiency, innovation, and more.”

AOPA is also eager to see the long-term bill passed. In a November 30 letter to Congress, several GA groups expressed concern that these continued short-term authorization extensions will “challenge the certainty that industry and the FAA depend on to enable long-term planning and investment in many critical areas required to ensure the safety of the NAS and America’s global leadership in aviation.”

The extension bill now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for signature.

Lillian Geil

Communications Specialist
Communications Specialist Lillian Geil is a student pilot and a graduate of Columbia University who joined AOPA in 2021.
Topics: Advocacy, Capitol Hill, FAA Funding

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