Senate Passes FAA Bill: House On Deck
All eyes are now on the House after the full Senate passed its version of an FAA reauthorization bill. The Senate approved a two-year measure allocating a total of $34.5 billion in an 87-8 vote. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a four-year reauthorization bill to be considered by the full House. It's not known when it will hit the floor but the current temporary extension of the FAA's operating authority (the 17th since 2007) expires March 31 and there seems to be the will to get a more permanent measure in place by then. The Senate bill passed with major revisions from earlier iterations.
The Senate bill allows greater access to Washington Reagan National Airport by non-stop flights from greater than 1,250 miles away. Only 12 such flights are currently allowed each day and the bill will add 16 more, a provision supported by western states. The bill also passed with $200 million annually in the Essential Air Service Program, which subsidizes airlines to provide service on unprofitable routes to smaller and far-flung cities. Sen. John McCain's bid to cancel the program was defeated before the vote on the bill. After the House passes its bill, a committee of representatives of both bodies will meet to hammer out a single version of the law, which can go to the president for his signature.