House Approves FAA Funding Through Jan. 31; Senate Vote Looms

After the Federal Aviation Administration was partially shut down for two weeks earlier this summer, Congressional leaders appear ready to pass the 22nd continuing resolution to fund the agency through Jan. 31, 2012. The agency’s current spending authority expires Friday, Sept. 16. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday, Sept. 13, and it now moves to the Senate.

During the partial FAA shut down in late July and early August, nearly 4,000 federal employees were furloughed and more than 200 stop-work orders were issued for airport construction and other projects. The shut down also left an additional 70,000 construction workers in limbo and amounted to $400 million in uncollected airline taxes.

Congressional bickering has prevented Congress from passing a long-term FAA funding bill since the last one expired in 2007. Republicans have pushed for a long-term bill with a provision that would make it more difficult for airline workers to unionize and are at odds with Democrats over millions of dollars in subsidies to rural airports.

Another item of Congressional debate is whether or not to address back pay for federal workers furloughed earlier this year. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica has publicly supported a separate, bipartisan piece of legislation that would provide back pay for the employees.

“Although Congress may approve another continuing resolution this week, the FAA is still operating on a series of 21 short-term fixes since 2007,” said AEA President Paula Derks. “It is time to put partisan politics aside and approve a long-term piece of legislation. Without it, the FAA’s ability to strategically commit to the infrastructure improvements necessary to fully implement NextGen is in jeopardy.”

The AEA encourages its members to contact members of Congress and urge them to pass a long-term FAA bill.