Congress Temporarily Funds FAA (Again)

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Congress passed another temporary funding measure for the FAA Thursday, averting the layoff of possibly as many as 80,000 people, one day ahead of a Friday deadline. Thursday, the legislation was headed to the desk of President Obama for his signature. Language in the extension passed by the House would fund the FAA at previous levels through January 2012. There was no additional funding for Next-Gen hardware and construction included in that version. The House managed to pass the extension earlier in the week and threats boiled up in the Senate to hold up the bill. Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., resolved not to pass the bill without a promise about certain long-term funding for bike paths.

Senator Coburn's position was that states should not be mandated to spend 10 percent of federal funds received under the bill on landscaping, bike paths and pedestrian safety. Senate leaders promised Coburn that there would be no such mandate in a bill expected next year that would provide long-term highway funding. As for the FAA, the last long-term funding bill granted to the agency expired in 2007. The House and Senate have not agreed on provisions in FAA reauthorization bills since. With the president's signature, the FAA will now operate under its 22nd extension. According to chairman of the House Transportation Committee, John Mica, R-Fla., this "will be the last extension." Barriers to long-term funding have so far included language regarding unionization of airline employees and how money will be used.