Congress Ready to Pass Aviation Safety Measures

Rep. James Oberstar expects House passage on Thursday and Senate passage soon afterward.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., made a last-ditch effort Wednesday to persuade senators to pass the broader aviation bill, including the safety measures, before the end of the week. The heart of the bill is a blueprint for FAA's $40 billion program to modernize the nation's air traffic control system.

The key issue holding up the bill, Dorgan said, is whether airlines should be allowed to fly an additional 16 flights a day from Reagan National Airport near Washington to destinations beyond a 1,200-mile "perimeter" imposed years ago to reduce airport noise and encourage development at the larger Dulles International Airport, which is farther away from the city and less convenient for lawmakers.

"I've just had a bellyful of the intransigence that exists in this chamber," Dorgan said in a speech on the Senate floor. "It's just fine to represent your interest and your region, but it's ... just not fine to block this bill."

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