The Senate passed and sent to President Obama on Tuesday a bill authorizing the Federal Aviation Administration for four years, ending a five-year battle over the measure that held up modernization of air traffic control systems.
It took 17 extensions of the old FAA authorization since 2007 for lawmakers to reach agreement on a new bill. The bill, approved 75-20 in the Senate, provides about $16 billion annually for the FAA, including modernization of the air traffic control system, improved safety, $13.4 billion for the Airport Improvement Program and preservation of the Essential Air Service program. The House passed the bill 248-169 last Friday.
A major break in authorization came three weeks ago when House and Senate leadership reached an agreement over union representations of airline workers under the Railway Labor Act.
The measures requires the National Mediation Board to hold a public hearing as part of informal rulemaking. It also requires a runoff election when two or more unions are seeking to represent workers.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV called the bill “a huge win for America’s economy, for passenger safety and for the aviation industry.”