By Fawn Johnson
September 9, 2011House Republicans are unveiling another funding extension for the Federal Aviation Administration as early as Friday, this time to Dec. 31, that also includes back pay for federal workers who were furloughed for two weeks in August when lawmakers failed to extend the agency's funding.
The measure also includes minor cuts to the funding levels of FAA, consistent with agreed-upon deficit reduction agreements and House appropriators' funding levels. The overall authorization levels reflect roughly a 5 percent reduction from current level, according to congressional and lobbying sources.
The FAA stopgap, which the House will consider next week, is far less incendiary than the last bill introduced by House transportation committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., which angered the Senate because it included provisions to cut subsidies to rural airports. Mica admits he included the policy language as leverage to force the House and Senate to begin hammering out their differences on a longer-term FAA bill. The battle that ensued wound up making all of Congress look bad when the standoff forced a partial shutdown; federal workers were furloughed and the Treasury lost some $400 million in tax receipts from airline ticket sales.
This time (the extension would be No. 22), Mica is trying to make amends to the furloughed workers by including a bill sponsored by Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., to make those workers whole. The current extension expires on Friday, Sept. 16.
Early indications are that the measure could pass the Senate without too much difficulty, averting another partial shutdown of the FAA.
By Fawn Johnson
September 9, 2011