Short-term FAA bill would likely extend into next year, GOP chairman says

Short-term FAA bill would likely extend into next year, GOP chairman says

If the House and Senate can't reach a deal on a long-term authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration by the end of this week, a short-term patch that lasts until 2017 is likely, according to a Senate GOP chairman.

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking to a group of reporters on Tuesday, Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneWhat Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump contradicts CDC director on vaccine, masks MORE (R-S.D.) said his staff members are meeting with their House counterparts this week about “what an extension might look like and what it might include.”

Thune indicated that a short-term patch would likely extend the FAA’s legal authority through sometime in 2017, during the next session of Congress. The agency’s current legal authority expires July 15.

“I don’t think there’s going to be as much interest in having anything we have to relitigate in the fall,” Thune said. “So I suspect it will go into next year.”

But a short-term patch doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a clean extension. Thune would like to include as many permanent policy provisions on the measure as possible, though it will depend on discussions with the House.

“I’d like to have all our provisions on there, but that’s a negotiation and we’ll see what the House is willing to accept,” Thune said. “We’re hopeful that we’ll get as much policy on there as we can that was included in the Senate bill, but they’ve got their own equities in this too.”

Thune sounded fairly confident that any FAA bill would avoid a messy fight over energy-related tax breaks. Democrats pushed to attach a package of renewable energy tax-extenders to the Senate’s FAA bill earlier this year, but the provisions were ultimately not included in the final measure.

“I would be very surprised if there’s any energy policy on any kind of an extension,” Thune said.

The upper chamber passed an FAA bill in April that would green light agency programs through fiscal 2017. The legislation also contains language to beef up airport security, reduce security checkpoint lines and strengthen consumer protections for airline passengers.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced a six-year version in February, but the legislation has remained stalled over a contentious proposal to separate the nation’s air traffic control system from the FAA.

Transportation Chairman Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterLobbying firm cuts ties to Trent Lott amid national anti-racism protests Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR MORE (R-Pa.) has shown no interest in taking up the Senate bill. But an aide to Shuster said Tuesday that he still hasn’t decided whether to pass another short-term patch or move forward with legislation that could be conferenced with the Senate.

Thune said he was still hopeful that the upper and lower chambers could strike a deal on a long-term reauthorization, but he acknowledged time is running out.

“There’s enough time for the July 15th deadline if the House and Senate can come together,” Thune said. But it “has to happen soon. I’d say it has to happen by the end of this week.”