Airport Alert: FAA Reauthorization Update: House Oks Another Short-Term Extension

FAA Reauthorization Update: House Oks Another Short-Term Extension

May 8, 2024


While the Senate continues to make progress on a multi-year FAA reauthorization bill, the House of Representatives today cleared a bill to extend aviation programs and excise taxes through May 17. The week-long extension provides a backstop since it appears that Congress will not be able to finish the FAA bill before the current stop-gap measure expires on Friday at midnight.
 
Lawmakers on April 29 unveiled a bipartisan and bicameral FAA reauthorization bill that will increase AIP funding to $4 billion annually, authorize another $200 million annually for resilience and runway safety projects, and help airports transition to fluorine-free firefighting foam. Senate leaders are working to finish the FAA bill, but it is unclear when a vote on final passage will occur.
 
Senate Making Progress, But Process is Slow
 
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been trying to convince his colleagues to pass the FAA bill quickly to meet the Friday deadline, and he has taken procedural steps to bring the debate to a close. But the process has slowed, in part, because lawmakers have filed a long list of amendments for leaders to review. Absent an agreement on timing and amendments, the Senate may not be able clear the bill by Friday.
 
So far, Senate leaders have added a handful of mostly non-controversial amendments to the FAA bill. One is a proposal from Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) that would require large and medium hub airports to have universal changing stations for individuals with disabilities in each of their terminals. The revised bill also includes a proposal from Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) that would provide grants to help airports combat human trafficking.
 
Meanwhile, the fate of a bipartisan amendment filed by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and John Kennedy (R-LA) that would prohibit or severely restrict the TSA from using biometric facial matching technologies at security checkpoints is still up in the air. AAAE and other aviation stakeholders are continuing to urge lawmakers to reject the proposal because it would reduce aviation security and create longer lines at security checkpoints.
 
Door Closing for the House to Consider the FAA Bill This Week
 
Even if the Senate manages to pass the bill this week, the House is unlikely to do its part in time. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) announced this afternoon that no further votes beyond the extension and a few other matters are expected in that chamber after today’s session. The House will not be in session tomorrow, all but closing the door on the possibility that Congress will finish the FAA bill this week.
 
The latest stop-gap measure will extend FAA programs and aviation excise taxes through May 17. We expect the Senate will pass the measure later this week, giving lawmakers more time to finish the FAA bill.