House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica said he will take “every measure that’s needed” to pass a four-year authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration by the end of the year.
The House and Senate agree on major points of reauthorization and are ready to settle on funding, but there are still a “half dozen issues pending,” said Mica, R-Fla., on Monday. Disagreements continue over proposed rural air subsidy cuts and changes in National Mediation Board rules to make it easier for unions to organize airline workers.
Disagreement over the Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes airports in rural areas, was the lynchpin to Congress’ failure this summer to meet a reauthorization extension deadline. The partial shutdown caused the furlough of about 4,000 federal employees and the stalling of roughly $2.5 billion in airport improvement work.
Mica said EAS subsidies amount to $3,720 per ticket, but he is willing allow small airports beyond a 90 mile radius of major hub airports.
On the latter issue, Mica said he was willing to have “equal-in, equal-out” provisions, which would balance the rules governing union certification and decertification.
Negotiations on a final bill have stalled so that Congress has had to approve 22 extensions of the previous FAA law since it expired in 2007. The latest FAA extension expires March 31.