By David Bauer, senior vice president of government relations, ARTBA

House and Senate transportation committee leaders are expected to shortly release another extension of the federal aviation programs. Despite Senate passage of a two-year reauthorization bill in April, and House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee approval of a six-year aviation bill in February, lawmakers are reportedly throwing in the towel on passing a new law this year and opting for a multi-month extension.

The current temporary authorization of the programs expires July 15.

The shift away from a long-term aviation bill appears to be related to widespread opposition from Democrats and certain Republicans to House T&I Committee Chairman Bill Shuster’s (R-Pa.) push to privatize air traffic control functions. The Senate-passed plan included no similar provisions and Shuster has reportedly not abandoned his proposal.

Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), however, indicated that there would be permanent policy provisions included in the upcoming temporary extension—a departure from the general practice of simply extending current law until a multi-year reauthorization measure is able to move forward.

Given this development, ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane wrote June 29 to the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Commerce and the House T&I Committees: “… it is essential that any policy reforms included in such a measure are complemented with adequate resources to upgrade the nation’s airport infrastructure network. Specifically, I urge you to ensure any future aviation program authorizations—regardless of duration—authorize at least the Senate-passed $3.75 billion in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) investment.”

Read Ruane’s letter. We will apprise you of the details of the aviation bill once they are available.