Senate passes FAA extension, sends it to Bush for signature

The Senate by unanimous consent Thursday approved a three-month FAA extension without a plan intended to send more money to federal highway coffers.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., initially attempted by unanimous consent to amend a House-passed three-month FAA extension with a plan from Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mt., to transfer $8 billion from the Treasury to the highway trust fund. But Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., objected.

Reid then asked whether DeMint would accept a $6 billion transfer but DeMint said no. DeMint argued that during earlier debate on making corrections to a 2005 surface transportation reauthorization measure the Senate "had the opportunity to take a lot of money that was saved from projects that were not needed. … But instead of taking that savings and putting it back in the trust fund, we used it to add additional earmarks and to put more money into projects that were there."

Reid then by unanimous consent approved the measure the House passed 422-0 earlier this week extending FAA through Sept. 30 without the highway trust fund fix.

That three-month extension goes to President Bush. The bill would extend through the fiscal year FAA's authority to collect and spend aviation taxes and contract authority for the Airport Improvement Program.

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