General Aviation's Future Is Inside the Beltway

An FAA funding bill is gaining traction in Congress, though it faces some circuitous pathways to final passage. Senate majority leader Harry Reid has made the FAA funding bill a priority — with more than two and a half years having gone by since the last long-term funding plan expired. Interim funding measures have all been short-term, with the result that little has been done to ensure the viability of long-range projects such as revitalizing the air traffic control system. Once past a tricky pathway through both houses, the legislation will enter a joint committee conference to reconcile differences between the House and Senate bills. One of the primary obstacles to final passage of FAA legislation has traditionally been unrelated amendments tacked on by lawmakers in hopes of having their agendas riding the coattails of important legislation. In the case of FAA funding, a bipartisan push led by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) stressed the importance of passing FAA funding legislation without the dangerous complication of unrelated amendments. Sen. Hutchison invoked some aviation terminology, saying, "It is in the interest of the traveling public that we start on the glide path to passing this bill. The FAA reauthorization is not a legislative vehicle that can carry a lot of highly controversial provisions."