Mica Says FAA Funding Deal Possible
A leading lawmaker says he thinks long-term reauthorization of the FAA is possible before the current interim funding package expires Jan. 31. Rep. John Mica, R-FLa., the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, says he thinks a four-year deal is possible by the end of the year. But even though the FAA has been without a proper reauthorization package since 2007, Washington observers are terming Mica's plan "optimistic" because of the politics involved. Mica himself hinted at turning down the temperature on the dispute over subsidizing air service to isolated communities, an issue at least partly to blame for the impasse that caused a partial shutdown of the agency in July.
Mica said he would accept subsidized flights to airports in communities at least 90 miles from the nearest regularly served commercial airport. When it came up last July, Mica and other Republicans wanted the subsidies ended for many airports, some of which happened to be located in the areas of prominent Democrat representatives and senators. The airline subsidy issue isn't the only issue that could get in the way of an FAA deal, however. Labor rules and slot designations at major airports can continue to dog the process.