White House urges 'clean extension' of FAA funding

The White House said Wednesday the provisions should wait for a long-term bill.

"The Administration strongly supports passage of a clean extension of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs, as the Congress has done 20 times without controversy, in order to allow bipartisan, bicameral negotiations to continue on a full reauthorization," the administration said in a statement of policy.

"H.R. 2553 includes controversial provisions that, because they have not been negotiated, needlessly threaten critical FAA programs and jeopardize thousands of public and private sector jobs," the White House statement continued. 

"Without timely passage of a clean extension, all of FAA’s capital accounts (Grants-in-Aid for Airports, Facilities and Equipment, and Research, Engineering, and Development) would be shut down, and approximately 4,000 employees would be furloughed. FAA’s ability to award new grants, including for infrastructure upgrades at airports across the country, as well as to move forward with vital testing and implementation of the Next Generation air traffic control system, would come to a stop."

Negotiations between the House and the Senate over a larger bill to fund the FAA for multiple years, which FAA officials say they desperately need, broke down after several months.

The chambers' competing versions of the bill 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.

Introducing the stopgap measure last week, Mica blamed Democrats in the Senate for the delay.

"It is unfortunate that we have been put in this position, again, by the current Senate leadership, who refuse to negotiate in the best interest of the American public,” Mica said in a statement released by his office. “When Democrats controlled the House and Senate, Congress also failed to act, and unfortunately Democrat tactics have not changed. Our nation’s aviation system cannot operate effectively under the Senate’s ongoing political gamesmanship.”

The current short-term measure expires Friday; the last FAA authorization bill was approved in 2004 and expired in 2007.