Senators reach accord on flights in and out of Reagan airport

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) announced on the floor Wednesday that a deal has been reached on how many flights will be allowed in, and out of, Reagan National Airport.

The disagreement has been holding up the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization bill for several weeks.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science amd Transportation Committee and floor manager for the FAA bill, said that in a "unhappy scenario," it was possible votes on final passage could be delayed until the beginning or March.

"In a perfect world we would have finished this bill already, without cloture," said Rockefeller in a floor speech. "[Flights pertaining to Reagan National Airport] are a very small part of this bill, but an important part."

Sources say the amendment dealing with the flights has not yet been made publicly available as the situation remains fluid. Hutchison noted in her floor speech that she and other senators worked late into the night on Tuesday to reach an accord.

"I hope our members know we will continue to work to address everyone's concerns," said Hutchison. "It is time to wind this bill down so we can go to conference with the House with a strong Senate position."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has expressed frustration that the Reagan Airport provision has tied up the FAA reauthorization measure.

Lawmakers from around Washington, D.C., area have sought to limit flights in and out of Reagan, clashing with other members who regularly arrive, and depart from the Northern Virginia airport.