by Kerry Lynch – August 27, 2018, 10:12 AM AIN Online
As time begins to run out on the FAA’s current authorization, prospects are increasing that Congress will pass another short-term extension with action on a full bill put off until after the November elections. The agency is currently operating on a short-term extension that runs through the end of September.
The House passed its comprehensive five-year bill in April, but the Senate has yet to bring its version to the floor for a vote. Senate Republican leaders still are hopeful to begin consideration of the bill shortly; Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota) said last week that he is not yet planning for an extension, according to Washington insider publication Politico.
The Senate for weeks has been wading through possible amendments that could be added to the bill and is believed to be close, maybe down to the last dozen. With a limit on the number of amendments, lawmakers are anticipating that the FAA bill could be completed in as little as a day on the Senate floor.
But with just a little more than a month left, finding that day is becoming more problematic, industry sources fear, particularly with numerous nominations, including to the U.S. Supreme Court, before the Senate and funding bills yet to be completed.
Even if the Senate were to take up its version of the bill, it would still need to be reconciled with the House version and return to both chambers for a vote.
Earlier this month 33 aviation organizations urged Senate leaders to take action soon, calling passage of a long-term bill essential to maintaining the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) has also stressed a need for Senate action short-term.
Most agree that the prospects for final passage remain strong. The bill has wide support in the Senate, and most controversial issues have been ironed out. Also, the Senate leadership has acknowledged the need for passage of a long-term bill. But the question remains whether that can happen in the next month.