House, Senate reach agreement on FAA bill

Greg Baker/AP

The House and the Senate have reached agreement on a bill that funds the Federal Aviation Administration through 2015.

The legislation authorizes $63 billion for FAA over the next four years, according to a press release issued late Tuesday from the office of Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

The bill also maintains funding for NextGen, the aviation agency’s ongoing air traffic control modernization effort.

“This legislation will, at long last, provide stable funding and policy direction for the FAA’s safety programs, airport development grants and operations for fiscal years 2012 through 2015,” Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, said in a statement.

According to the committee’s news release, among the big fund allocations are $13.4 billion to the Airport Improvement Program, $38.3 billion for FAA operations, and $10.9 billion for facilities and equipment.

The Associated Press also is reporting that the bill will bring changes to the Essential Air Service Program, which provides subsidized funding to airports in rural communities: No new communities will be allowed to enroll in the program, and its funding will drop by $10 million a year, from $200 million to $190 million.

Final passage of the bill by the House and the Senate is expected within the next two weeks, according to AP.

The deal comes after 23 short-term extensions of FAA funding and a partial shutdown of the agency last summer.

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