Congress Extends FAA Funding One Month

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While aviation advocates continue to lobby for a stable, long-term FAA funding plan, Congress last week agreed to extend current funding for the agency through June 30. The bill is now awaiting President Obama's signature. The obstacles to creating a long-term funding plan, according to U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, are two "poison-pill" provisions that Republicans in the House have refused to remove from their version of the bill. Those provisions call for $4 billion in funding cuts, which Costello says would hurt the U.S. economy and reduce aviation safety, and the repeal of an existing law that protects collective bargaining rights for some airline workers. Both houses of Congress have approved funding bills this year, but their differences must now be reconciled before a final version can become law.

The FAA has been operating under a series of short-time extensions since 2007. "So despite assurances from our friends on the Republican side of the aisle that we would not have another FAA extension, Congress must now enact the 19th short-term extension," Costello told The Hill. "If the House Republicans continue to insist on these controversial poison-pill provisions, the enactment of a long-term bill this year is in serious jeopardy, and we will be back here on the floor for more extensions in the future." One side effect of the failure to reach a long-term solution may be a little extra time for NBAA's lobbying effort to overturn recent changes to the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program. The Transportation Department said last week it will now allow private aircraft owners to block their data from public traffic-tracking websites only for security reasons, not for privacy or business concerns. NBAA is lobbying House members who are working on the final bill to include language to preserve the BARR program in its present form.