The Federal Aviation Administration is one step closer to having its authorities fully reinstated, thanks to an agreement forged by House and Senate leaders. Congress is expected to vote on the bipartisan bill, which would fund the FAA’s programs through fiscal 2015, before the association’s temporary extension expires on February 17.
If ratified, the bill will provide the FAA with $63 billion to subsidize air-traffic control modernization projects, safety programs and related operations. The bill, which has been endorsed by both House and Senate leaders, also blocks stricter regulations concerning the shipment of lithium batteries.
“After a five-year delay and 23 temporary extensions, this measure is key to advancing the nearly 8 percent of our nation’s economy impacted by the aviation industry,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) said in a statement. “This bipartisan, bicameral agreement ensures long-term aviation safety and infrastructure funding for the next four years.”
“I commend my colleagues in the House and Senate for working across party lines to come together on this long overdue measure to make needed reforms at FAA, fund programs for constructing major airport infrastructure improvements, and help create jobs for Americans,” Mica continued.
In July, a bipartisan dispute led to the 13-day partial shutdown of the FAA, causing nearly 4,000 airline workers to be furloughed. The FAA’s partial shutdown also temporarily affected the renovations of air traffic control towers at leading airports around the U.S.
Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI) hopes the passage of a long-term bill will prevent similar disruptions in the future. “This legislation will, at long last, provide stable funding and policy direction for the FAA’s safety programs, airport development grants and operations,” he stated. “Once in place, the new system will bring about a revolution in aviation, providing greater safety, lower costs, fewer emissions and better on-time performance with shorter, more direct flights. I am very excited about it.”
Airlines for America President Nicholas Calio also expressed his excitement about the agreement, commending the FAA Reauthorization Conference Committee for making progress on the “long-stalled bill.”
“It is great news for aviation, our customers and the 10 million jobs we enable,” Calio said in a statement. “The bill establishes a much-needed long-term reauthorization that addresses the significant issues that previously blocked the legislation from moving forward. We urge Congress to approve this bill.”