FAA Funding Saga Continues

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In May, Congress agreed to extend the FAA's funding through June 30, and as that date loomed last week, they passed yet another extension that expires on July 22. It was the 20th such short-term measure since the last comprehensive funding bill expired in 2007. The uncertainty and lack of long-term planning has not been good for the FAA, according to Administrator Randy Babbitt. "It's very difficult to run an agency when you're budgeting for weeks, not years," he said in a recent speech. "We need the restoration of predictable long-term funding for aviation programs." Both houses of Congress passed reauthorization bills earlier this year, but so far they have been unable to reconcile their differences.

Among the issues stalling the final bill are billions in proposed spending cuts, including reduced funding for airport improvements and rural air service, and a provision that would make it harder for airline employees to unionize. Some reports have said the short three-week extension is a signal that a final bill is close to realization, but others say the various issues that remain to be resolved are contentious, with no compromise in sight.