House approves funds for FAA, highways

The House on Tuesday voted to extend funding for the Federal Aviation Administration and the funding mechanism for highways, bridges, and railways, putting off the hard negotiations on infrastructure investment until next year.

The Senate is expected to pass the same bill later this week, laying to rest fears from many in the transportation community that funding for either aviation or surface transportation would lapse and force another partial shutdown of the FAA or halt the revenues to the highway trust fund.

The extensions are causing some consternation in conservative circles. The Heritage Foundation urged Republicans to vote against the proposal because it sets surface-transportation spending (at current levels) well above the House Republican budget agreed to earlier this year. Despite that, the bill passed on a voice vote.

The FAA's current spending authority expires on Friday. The surface-transportation authorization expires on Sept. 30. The six-month surface-transportation extension will retain the 18.4-cent-per-gallon federal gas tax to continue past Sept. 30. That revenue allows the highway trust fund to remain solvent. Lawmakers say they will work out their differences on a longer-term highway bill in the interim.

The Senate and House both have unveiled outlines of surface-transportation legislation, but they are far apart on the specifics. House Republicans are proposing a six-year, $230 billion bill that cuts infrastructure spending by one-third. The cuts have met with resistance from Democrats and the business community, who say the country can't afford to skimp on roads and bridges. In part because House Republicans' budget constraints force dramatic spending cuts in transportation, Senate Republicans and Democrats are proposing a two-year, $109 billion bill that retains current spending levels.

The FAA, meanwhile, already has been the subject of hostile debate when House Republicans this summer tried to force Senate Democrats to accept policy changes to the aviation program on the previous stopgap funding measure. Senate leaders refused, and the standoff led to a two-week partial shutdown of the FAA, thousands of furloughed government workers, and some $400 million in lost tax revenue from airline-ticket sales.

Members of Congress also took some public-relations heat for the debacle. House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., was labeled a "job killer" by union protestors over the August break, and Republicans railed against Senate Democrats for being unwilling to negotiate on a number of outstanding provisions.

Mica took the House floor on Tuesday to say the four-month extension of the FAA would give lawmakers time to work out their differences. "This is the 22nd extension, and I can guarantee it will be the last extension because we must and we will pass a four-year authorization," he said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.