House sends FAA extension to Obama

The House on Monday cleared legislation to renew Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs ahead of a deadline at the end of this month.

The measure, passed by voice vote, now heads to President Obama’s desk as the House nears a two-week holiday recess.

With time running out before the March 31 deadline, lawmakers turned to a short-term fix to ensure that FAA programs and the ability to collect aviation taxes remain authorized through July 15.

House and Senate lawmakers overseeing transportation programs are still trying to find consensus on a long-term FAA reauthorization. But the authorization for aviation programs would lapse if Congress didn’t pass a legislative patch in the meantime.

“[The short-term extension] will avoid these unnecessary consequences while Congress works to finish a long-term aviation bill,” said House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).

The Senate Commerce Committee approved legislation last week to renew FAA programs through September 2017, while the version advanced out of the House Transportation Committee would last for another five years.

However, GOP leaders ultimately opted against bringing the House measure up for a floor vote because of controversy over a proposal that would create a new non-governmental organization to run air traffic control instead of the FAA.

The House originally passed a short-term renewal that would have extended the aviation taxes through March 2017, but the Senate amended it before adjourning last week for its recess so that both the FAA programs and revenue collection lasted for the same amount of time.

Under the latest extension, lawmakers will have until the scheduled last day in session before Congress breaks for the GOP and Democratic presidential conventions and annual August recess to put forward a new FAA bill. After recessing in mid-July, neither the House nor Senate will be back in session until after Labor Day.