GOP lawmaker urges colleagues to support short-term aviation bill

GOP lawmaker urges colleagues to support short-term aviation bill
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A GOP chairman on Wednesday appeared to take a veiled shot at the Republicans who have threatened to oppose short-term legislation that is needed to keep the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) running. 

Both the House and Senate have been trying to pass a long-term reauthorization of the FAA, whose legal authority expires at the end of September, but neither chamber has been able to come to an agreement.

That means Congress will have to pass a short-term extension when it returns to Washington next week, though questions remain over how long it will extend the FAA’s legal authority or whether other policy items will be attached.

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“ANY Member of Congress who irresponsibly votes against FAA extension is actively trying to shutdown FAA, furlough thousands of FAA employees,” tweeted Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on aviation.

“Debate on long-term FAA Authorization continues - Unsupportive colleagues should work w/ @Transport & myself to resolve, not shut FAA down!”

LoBiondo’s message appears to be aimed at Republicans who said they would oppose a short extension of the FAA reauthorization because of concerns over the House's long-term proposal.

Some lawmakers are concerned that the move will just give GOP leadership more time to whip up support for the long-term FAA bill, which authorizes the agency for six years and includes a controversial proposal to separate air traffic control from the federal government.

That issue, endorsed by President Trump, has been divisive among Republicans. House leaders and the White House have been pressuring wary GOP appropriators to back the plan.

“Why hand them the time so they can use it as a club to beat you over the head?” Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) said in a telephone interview with The Hill. “Most of the folks that are opposing the bill, the hardcore nos, will also be opposing the extension.”

House Democrats have generally remained united in their opposition to the spinoff model. But they have signaled some openness to supporting a short-term extension if it lasts for at least six months. That is also the preference of transportation leaders in the Senate.

But Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) told The Hill last week that he is eyeing a short-term patch that would extend through the end of 2017.

“We will not support less than six months,” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said during a pen-and-pad session with reporters last week. “And I will urge my fellow Democrats not to support less than six months.”