Senators Want Stand-Alone FAA Extension to Buy More Time for Talks

Senate leaders are working to win support for a bill that would extend through the end of the year the Federal Aviation Administration's authority to collect and spend money, which expires at week's end.

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said leadership would prefer a stand-alone, three-month FAA extension, rather than adding it to a continuing spending resolution.

The stand-alone bill would give lawmakers an extra month and a half to settle differences between the two chambers' long-term FAA reauthorization bills (HR 2881, S 1300).

Manley confirmed that the Senate on Tuesday began the process of "hotlining" a three-month extension (HR 3540) that the House passed Sept. 24, with the goal of clearing it by the end of the week. The current authorization (PL 108-176) expires Sept. 30.

Language to extend FAA authorization is also included in the continuing resolution (H J Res 52) that would maintain government operations at fiscal 2007 levels when the new fiscal year begins, Oct. 1.

But the continuing resolution would only extend the authorization through Nov. 16. A Democratic aide on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmed that the panel would prefer the stand-alone House bill, which would last through Dec. 31.

"Ideally, we would like that to pass and deal with this that way," the aide said.

But in the Senate, it only takes one disgruntled member to hold up consideration. With the deadline approaching, lawmakers are hedging their bets by "dual tracking" the extension as part of the continuing resolution as well, the aide said.

"In the event that [the stand-alone] gets held up, we expect to have similar language in the [continuing resolution] that will go for six weeks," the aide said.

The House continuing resolution contains language that would extend the FAA's authority to collect the ticket and excise taxes that produce most of its revenue, as well as the authority to expend the money and allow states contract authority for improvement projects.

Source: CQ Today Round-the-clock coverage of news from Capitol Hill. ©2007 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All Rights Reserved.