FAA Funding May Fly As "Jobs Bill"

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On Monday, Democrats in the Senate recast the long-overdue FAA funding bill as an infrastructure and jobs program, arguing that $8 billion for airport improvements will support 90,000 workers. "If there was ever a jobs bill, this is it," said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. The bill, which has been stalled for more than three years, would allot $34.5 billion to the FAA to keep the agency running for two years and make progress toward NextGen. Last year, the bill passed in the Senate but languished in the House. The new House, however, may provide fewer obstacles. U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., the new chair of the House Transportation Committee, has said the bill will be his first priority, according to The Associated Press.

Various issues have bogged down the legislation over the last few years, including a dispute between FedEx and UPS over union rules and wrangling over the addition of more slots at Washington's Reagan National Airport. Consensus seems to be building, however, that the details will get worked out and the legislation will finally get through to completion sometime this year. But that doesn't mean it will be smooth sailing. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., told Politico he wasn't buying the Democrats' pitch. "It's not a jobs bill," he said. "I know jobs is a big thing these days, but don't try to sell legislation that really has some other impetus or reason for being as a jobs bill if it's really not."