Congress Passes Transportation Appropriations Bill

On Thursday, Nov. 17, Congress passed a bipartisan Fiscal Year 2012 "Mini-Bus" appropriations bill, which combines three funding bills into one for the current fiscal year. The bill supports important general aviation programs and services, and it will fund the Department of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, which funds the Federal Aviation Administration. Language in the bill provides additional funding for more FAA certification personnel, an important measure to ensure new technologies are swiftly certified into the market.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill 298-121, and the Senate vote was 70-30. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation.

In addition, the bill includes language reinstating the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program, and it provides important NextGen funding to help modernize the air transportation system in the U.S. However, the bill does not provide a long-term funding solution for the FAA, which is currently operating on a series of 22 short-term extensions since 2007.

“Although this bill passed on Thursday only authorizes spending for the current fiscal year, Congress still needs to have continued frank discussions on the issues that have prevented them from passing a multi-year FAA authorization bill for the past four years,” said Paula Derks, AEA president.

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.

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

Contact Ric Peri, AEA vice president of government and industry affairs, by email at or by phone at 202-589-1144.