With Deadline Looming, House Passes FAA Reauthorization Extension with Hurricane Relief

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Current FAA projects could halt and employees face furloughs if Congress fails to pass an extension to the FAA Reauthorization package by Saturday.

While an attempt by the House to pass a bill that contained numerous unrelated “add-ons” failed earlier this week, the House passed legislation Thursday to extend FAA Reauthorization, and to provide tax relief for victims of recent hurricanes.

The package extends FAA authorization for another six months.  This is the latest of many extensions since Congress failed to pass a new Reauthorization package in 2016.  The current package is dated 2012, but Congress has not been able to agree over the contentious issue of privatization of Air Traffic Control, as supported by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Bill Shuster in the AIRR act.

However tight the timeline, this extension may not pass the Senate. Democrats, including Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) object to the add-ons in the bill.  Other Demoncratic Senators say that including the flood insurance provision as an afterthought on FAA Reauthorization instead of “part of comprehensive flood insurance reform” is “greatly concerning.”

If the Senate suggests changes to the bill, it will need to pass it back to the House, which is not scheduled to be in session on Friday.

While it is Democrats who are expressing the most resistance to the legislation, not all Republicans are pleased with it either.  The Hill reports that Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) objected to the add-ons, saying: “This is a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation. We should be sending a clean FAA extension to the Senate.”

The Hill also reported that Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, expressed doubt that the bill would pass in it’s current form. “Yeah, I think there will be [changes],” he told reporters. “There aren’t the votes in the Senate. They’ll block it. And with the short timeline we have to work with, that’s not a good outcome.”



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