Because we didn’t have enough to worry about, the Federal Aviation Administration could shut down Friday, if Republicans insist on including certain controversial provisions into a short-term extension.
Showing how Washington runs like a precision watch, the FAA’s authorization bill has been extended on a short-term basis 20 different times since 2007. The 21st short-term measure is up for a vote in the House this week, but according to a Statement of Administration Policy, it includes unacceptable provisions that would not get a Presidential signature. HR 2553 is the legislative vehicle in the House for the short-term extension.
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. 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.
Both sides have passed a long-term extension, but the consensus bill was being hammered out in negotiations. Apparently these talks broke down. So, Rep. John Mica (R-FL), the chair of the House Transportation Committee, included a provision that changes Essential Air Service in a way that is still being negotiated in the compromise bill. Essential Air Service provides funding for rural airports across the country, allowing for postal service and transportation. Specifically, this measure would limit EAS eligibility to those airports further than 90 miles from a large or medium airport. The White House obviously doesn’t support that inclusion in the short-term bill.
Even trade groups like the Aerospace Industries Association support a short-term extension.