The long battle over reauthorizing FAA—which has been operating for more than four years via a series of 23 temporary funding extensions—finally came to an end Monday with the US Senate's passage of a bill allocating $63.3 billion to the agency through Sept. 30, 2015.
After years of controversial votes on the issue, the Senate passed the compromise FAA legislation cleared by the House of Representatives last week (ATW Daily News, Feb. 6) by a strong 75-20 tally. The bill has been sent to the desk of President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said, "I think there's general support in the aviation community for this bill … Nobody got all they wanted, but that's the nature of compromise and compromise was particularly difficult in this bill."
While various industry players quibble with certain components of the legislation, most appear pleased that years of uncertainty over airport construction projects and the government's commitment to transitioning to a NextGen ATC system have finally ended.
"We commend Congress for passing a responsible bill that recognizes that commercial aviation is central to America's global competitiveness and a key enabler of job growth and US productivity," Airlines for America (A4A) president and CEO Nicholas Calio said. "The bill will help accelerate deployment of the most cost-beneficial NextGen air traffic management system technologies."
US Aerospace Industries Assn. (AIA) said in a statement that the bill "is critical to FAA operations and offers stability and predictability to the aviation industry instead of the uncertainty fueled by one short-term extension after another."