Congress is closer to finally completing a long-term measure authorizing the Federal Aviation Administration after reaching a compromise on labor provisions that have kept the agency in near limbo for nearly five years.
Rep. John L. Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said his panel will take up a three-week extension of the FAA authorization on Tuesday to give members of the House and Senate time to work out remaining details. Mica said that work includes administrative details that should clear the way for a final measure.
“We must bring to conclusion a long-term FAA bill to help create jobs, modernize our nation’s aviation infrastructure and air traffic control system, and streamline and reform FAA programs as soon as possible,” Mica said.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reached an agreement Friday on union issues that have held up approval of a long-term authorization. The latest extension, the 23rd since the last full FAA authorization expired in 2007, will carry the agency through Feb. 17.
Although there is little dispute the FAA needs a full measure to proceed with major upgrades of the nation’s air traffic control systems, long-term bills have been held up by disputes over labor issues.
News reports said House and Senate leaders agreed to let significant rulings by the National Mediation Board be subject to public hearings before taking effect. House Republicans bitterly opposed a new FAA after the NMB ruled that FedEx drivers could organize under the Railway Labor Act.
The issue forced partial shutdown of the FAA last summer that idled some 4,000 employees until Congress could agree to extend the law.