FAA Reauthorization News: (... no, Groundhog Day Was Yesterday)

It's been three years and 17 temporary funding packages since the FAA had long-term funding legislation in place. But next week, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) will introduce a "new" two-year, $34.5 billion bill, which he says is identical to the one passed last year 93-0 by the Senate. That bill stalled in the House of Representatives, in part due to labor concerns over collective bargaining rights for FedEx employees. There were also concerns on both sides of the aisle that the so-called "passengers' bill of rights" (making airlines liable to fines for extended ramp delays) would advance from its current status of a Department of Transportation regulation to the law of the land. Rockefeller's bill includes language that ramps up funding for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen); including creating a new high-level FAA position to oversee the implementation of NextGen projects. The last long-term funding package for the FAA expired in 2007, and a series of last-minute 90-day extension packages has kept the agency funded ever since, as efforts to come up with the next funding package have stalled. Just beware if Bill Murray is spotted in Congress reporting on debate on the latest attempt.