Short-term FAA bill clears Senate, headed to Obama

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.