It looks as if House and Senate lawmakers will agree to extend FAA’s authorization until the end of the year, but its anyone’s guess how long it will take to get a long-term reauthorization completed.
The House is expected to vote Wednesday on the three-month extension proposal, and the Senate will probably pass the same provision by unanimous consent. This would merely extend current funding authority, and would contain no new proposals.
FAA’s current authorization expires Sept. 30, and there is no immediate prospect of the House and Senate agreeing to a full reauthorization bill. The major holdup is on the Senate side – while the Commerce Committee has passed its version, it must wait for the Finance Committee to act on aviation tax provisions. But the Finance Committee, of course, is still locked with the healthcare reform issue.
The Finance Committee was hoping to move its health care bill this week, but the vast number of proposed amendments could cause delays. However, even when it gets to the FAA issue, this committee may want to hold a hearing.
Once the bill hits the Senate floor, about two days of debate are expected. Getting floor time could be a challenge, though, since some appropriations bills must still be considered.
There are enough differences between the House and Senate versions of the reauthorization bill to complicate the conference process. But there is still a pretty good chance that the bill will be signed into law this year.