By Keith Laing - 05/25/11 02:36 PM EDT
Both chambers have already passed bills to fund the FAA for the long term, but the competing measures are far apart. The Senate measure provided $34.5 billion over two years, while the House provided $59 billion over four years.
Additionally, the House measure includes provisions that would make it harder for airline and railroad employees to unionize, drawing a veto threat from Obama.
With that a backdrop, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) cast doubt this week on the prospects for swift reconciliation of the longer-term FAA bills.
“The crowd that came [in 2010] is not interested in spending more money,” Mica said Tuesday at the Transportation Construction Coalition's 10th annual Washington fly-in. “This is a slash, crash and burn crew, if you haven't noticed."
When the short-term FAA bill (H.R. 1893) was first introduced last week, Mica called it a "backup plan."
"This extension is simply a backup plan as negotiations on a long-term bill continue,” he said in a statement. “The introduction of the extension will also serve to reserve debate time on the House Floor and ensure that Congress has an opportunity to consider final long-term legislation before the end of the month.”
If Obama does not sign the short-term FAA bill, the beleaguered agency will run out of money May 31. The president has signed several previous short-term extensions for the FAA, however, including the one set to expire next week.