House passes short-term FAA extension

The House passed legislation on Monday to provide a four-month extension of Federal Aviation Administration programs to buy time ahead of a deadline at the end of this month.

The measure, passed by voice vote, extends the authorization of FAA programs through July 15 and the ability to collect aviation taxes through March 31, 2017.

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House and Senate negotiators are still working out differences between their respective proposals to reauthorize the FAA. 

The Senate Commerce Committee last week unveiled a bill last week to reauthorize FAA programs through Sept. 30, 2017 and plans to hold a markup on Wednesday.

Across the Capitol, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced a measure last month that would authorize funding for the FAA through 2022. 

Many Democrats and aviation industry groups opposed the legislation, however, because it proposed creating a new non-governmental organization to handle air traffic control instead of the FAA. House GOP leaders opted to scrap the plan after it encountered too much controversy. 

With time running out, lawmakers turned to a short-term authorization to avoid a lapse of funding for FAA programs.

"H.R. 4721 will avoid this unnecessary consequence while Congress works to finish a long-term aviation bill," House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said.

The Senate will depart for a two-week Easter break at the end of this week, while the House is scheduled to be in session until March 23 before leaving for its holiday recess. 

The FAA reauthorization remains one of the few pieces of legislation for which lawmakers face a hard deadline this year. 

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