Reagan National Airport is seen in Washington, D.C. Congress will take up another stop-gap funding measure for the FAA. The existing measure expires Jan. 31. (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)
For Federal Aviation Administration employees, the threat of another partial shutdown eased Tuesday after the House unanimously approved a stop-gap funding bill that would run through Feb. 17. The measure, which now goes to the Senate, would replace a similar measure that expires Jan. 31.
Lawmakers are hoping to use the added time to wrap up work on a long-term reauthorization.
If nothing is done, the FAA will face another partial shutdown next week, similar to one that put more than 3,700 employees out of work for about two weeks last summer.
"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," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a news release. The last long-term reauthorization expired in 2007; the latest extension would be the 23rd since then.
A key obstacle to a long-term reauthorization measure has been a partisan dispute over a 2010 National Mediation Board decision making it easier for airline and railroad employees to unionize. Republicans had wanted to use the FAA legislation to void the board's decision. Under a newly struck compromise, the board would be subject to oversight by the Government Accountability Office, while all significant rulemakings would require a public hearing, a Mica spokesman said.
The transportation committee's top Democrat, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, is leaning toward supporting the compromise provision, a spokesman said, "pending hearing from all the affected unions."