Funding extension bill for FAA and highways now on deck


Some welcome news for Federal Aviation Administration employees: A soon-to-be-introduced bill would extend funding  authorization for various FAA programs through the end of January. It would be the latest in the series of stopgap extensions, the most recent of which expires this coming Friday, Sept. 16.

The bill, posted Friday night on the House Rules Committee’s website, is sponsored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla. It can’t actually be introduced before Monday, a Mica spokesman said in an email.

Whatever happens after that, FAA employees can only hope that the ensuing congressional debate proceeds a little more decorously than the last time a similar measure was up. This summer, almost 4,000 agency staff were furloughed without pay for about two weeks after getting caught in the middle of a partisan standoff over union organizing rules and  other issues. The total cost in lost salaries and benefits was about $40 million, according to the agency. Mica’s bill does not authorize any back pay for those workers.

Not clear at this point is how Senate Democrats plan to proceed. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did not reply to email and phone messages Thursday and Friday seeking comment on Reid’s plans.

Mica’s bill would also extend highway programs through the end of March.


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