The week ahead: Lawmakers look ahead to aviation funding


Lawmakers in the House will take a break from pondering the future of funding for the nation’s roads and transit systems to consider another looming deadline for airport spending. 

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Aviation Subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Wednesday to examine federal “airport financing and development.”

The hearing comes amid a Capitol Hill fight over a pressing deadline for renewing road and transit funding that is scheduled to expire this fall. 

The $63 billion Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding bill that was approved in 2012 is scheduled to expire in 2015, so aviation funding will be have to be renewed not long after any potential solution is reached on surface transportation spending. 

The last FAA was approved after a four years-long fight over labor rules for airlines resulted in Congress approving more than 20 temporary extensions of the agency’s appropriations bill that expired in 2009. Lawmakers in both parties have expressed a desire to avoid a repeat of that occurrence. 

House Transportation Committee Rep. Bill Shuster has said that he is planning to start on the new aviation funding measure early like he did with a recently approved port and waterways bill. 

"To pass a new reauthorization that will keep us competitive, we have to begin laying the groundwork now," Shuster said in a December speech to International Aviation Club of Washington. 

"We shouldn’t settle for just another reauthorization of programs, or for making adjustments at the margins of the system,” Shuster continued. “We may have the world’s best aviation system for the moment, but that title comes with no guarantee. We have an obligation to improve our system any way we can, with bold, innovative ideas.”

FAA Deputy Associate Administrator for Airports Benito De Leon and U.S. Government Accountability Office Director of Civil Aviation Issues Gerald Dillingham are scheduled to testify. 

Representatives from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, American Association of Airport Executives, Airlines for America and Airports Council International, North America are also scheduled to testify.

The transportation committee is also scheduled to hold a roundtable discussion on Monday about “ways the financial community can invest in infrastructure using public-private partnerships.” 

The panel will also meet Wednesday to hold a hearing about “maintaining Coast Guard readiness.”