U.S. House of Representatives Passes Long-Term FAA Reauthorization Bill

On Friday, Feb. 3, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a compromise bill that includes $63 billion in Federal Aviation Administration funding through 2015. The bill was approved after 23 short-term continuing resolutions that members of both parties said was making it difficult for the agency to perform air safety functions. The FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act was approved by a 248-169 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate.

"These (short-term) extensions cost the taxpayer millions of dollars, and you can't run an agency that's responsible for so much of our economy with these hiccup extensions," House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) told The Hill.

Congressional leaders in both the House of Representatives and Senate reached a compromise on the deal Jan. 31. The 396-page bill includes funding for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, accelerated national deployment of NextGen technologies, $13.4 billion for the Airport Improvement Program and assures funding subsidies for rural airport with $190 million annually.

In the past, Congressional bickering has prevented Congress from passing a long-term FAA funding bill since the last one expired in 2007. Last summer, the FAA was partially shut down for two weeks when short-term funding expired. At that time, more than 4,000 FAA employees were furloughed and dozens of construction projects across the country received “stop work orders” for critical airport modernization projects.