With Senate approval, FAA funding will be extended through March

The Senate has voted to extend the funding and authority of the FAA through March.

The bill, passed by unanimous consent, is identical to an extension bill that passed in the House last week. It will become law once signed by President Biden. 

Congress had originally been scheduled to complete a five-year FAA reauthorization bill by Sept. 30. Instead, a short-term reauthorization that passed at that time had been slated to expire at the end of the year.

The House passed its version of the five-year reauthorization in July with bipartisan support. But the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has yet to take vote on a long-term bill. 

Had the FAA’s funding been allowed to lapse, it would have led to a suspension of airport construction projects funded by FAA grants. It also would have prevented the FAA from assessing taxes on passenger tickets and general aviation fuel purchases, among other additional consequences. Those taxes are used to fund capital improvements at airports and within the broader aviation system. 

In a statement last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is the top Republican on the transportation committee, said that Democrats and Republicans on the committee still must reach agreement on numerous provisions before moving a long-term authorization forward. He expressed concern that the disputes won’t be settled in 2024, which would force the process to begin anew after a new Congress takes office at the beginning of 2025. 

Among many other measures, the House version of FAA reauthorization would increase funding for aviation infrastructure improvements, address the shortage of U.S. air traffic controllers, provide new consumer protections to air travelers, address ASTA’s travel advisor-related issues of concern and raise the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots.

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