Friday: House to spare FAA from spending cuts

The bill was a last-second fix from the Senate before it adjourned for the week, and the House is expected to take it up before it too leaves for the week. The House voted Thursday to take up last minute suspension bills, presumably in anticipation of an FAA-related bill.

Passing it would help end a two-week fight over flight delays caused by the sequester, which forced the FAA to cut $600 million from its budget. The Obama administration has said it has no choice but to furlough thousands of air traffic controllers, while Republicans have said the administration had the flexibility to ensure that the cuts did not affect the traveling public.

But the he-said, she-said nature of the fight was lost on thousands of travelers who started complaining about flight delays. Several thousand people sent formal complaints to Congress and the White House, and the FAA said hundreds of flights were being delayed each day this week.

The bill is a revenue measure, which must normally start in the House. If the House passes it today, it would have to be passed by the Senate again. But the Senate passed the bill in such a way that if the House approves the same version, the Senate will automatically reapprove the House-passed bill — that will allow the measure to go immediately to President Obama for his signature.

The House will also debate four amendments to H.R. 527, the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, and then pass this bill. The legislation would restructure government sales of helium to more effectively encourage domestic helium development.

Once these bills are out of the way, the House will be done for the week, and will join the Senate on a one-week recess.

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