House to extend FAA funding while finalizing multi-year bill

The House of Representatives will vote next week to extend the funding of the Federal Aviation Administration through the end of February while lawmakers finalize a deal on a multi-year extension. 

Friday, a deal was reached on labor provisions that have held up an agreement on a long-term measure for the FAA better part of a year. The agency has 22 short-term extensions since its last authorization bill expired in 2007, and a House Republican aide told The Hill Saturday it would get a 23rd before a long-sought multi-year bill was approved. 

Before Friday, a House effort to reverse labor election rules that were enacted in 2009 by the National Mediation Board to ensure absentee votes were not counted as votes against forming a union held up the FAA bill. Senate Democrats balked at the provision, calling it anti-democratic, and House Republicans dug in for the better part of 2011.

ADVERTISEMENT
But lawmakers agreed Friday to increase the percentage of a company's workforce that would have to be in favor of a vote on unionization before an election could be had from 35 to 50 percent. 

Also under the deal, the NMB would have to hold public hearings before making future rule changes in lieu of requiring them to be reviewed by judges.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed confidence that the agreement on the labor provision would clear the runway for the long-term FAA bill.

"While some issues remain, there is no reason we cannot resolve them in the coming days and avoid any risk of another FAA shutdown," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday in a statement.

"We can now move ahead on this critical infrastructure measure that will help create jobs, modernize our nation’s air traffic control system, and reduce the size of government,” a spokesman for House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) said.

According to the GOP aide, Republicans hope to complete work on the long-term FAA bill by mid-February. Sources have said the compromise bill would fund the FAA for four years.