Federal aviation programs will face yet another extension come September, if Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has his way, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told Bloomberg Government.
The FAA reauthorization bills (H.R. 2997, S. 1405) extend aviation programs, include language protecting airline passengers and address drone access to airspace, among other items. The current authorization, a six-month extension passed in the omnibus spending bill, expires Sept. 30.
“I think he’d like to get an extension into next year in hopes that they’ll be in the majority,” Thune said about Schumer. The Democrats think they could then write the Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill on their terms, he added.
Schumer’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Such a move by Schumer would go against the preferences of Thune and bipartisan leaders of the House transportation committee. Schumer declined to comment on the record.
“I’ve been here 18 years and every time Congress decides to wait to do something because one party might get the majority and, ‘Boy, it’s going to be that much better,’ it’s always a fool’s errand,” said Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), ranking member on the House Aviation Subcommittee.
“We have the opportunity to get this bill done and do a long-term reauthorization, then we should do it and produce good legislation,” Larsen said in an interview.
The September deadline negotiated in the omnibus came at Schumer’s request, Thune and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) previously told Bloomberg Government.
The minority leader had initially sought a December extension and September was the compromise, an industry lobbyist said.
A possible FAA expiration coinciding with an expiration of federal funding at the end of the fiscal year and the potential need for a continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down a month before Election Day, could strengthen the Democrats’ leverage.
“If and when we get it to the floor there will be lots of opportunities to negotiate provisions in the bill, things people want dropped out, things people want to add,” Thune said.
Top transportation authorizers—both chairmen, a subcommittee chairman, and a subcommittee ranking member—said in interviews that they all would have preferred a shorter extension and expect to pass an authorization sooner than Sept. 30.
House Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) would be opposed to a push from his leadership to pursue an additional extension in September, he said in an interview.
“There’s nothing in there we find particularly problematic,” he said. “I see no reason to delay the bill.
Process in the House
House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) has said he expects his bill to get a floor vote by the last week of April.
The House Rules Committee could issue a meeting notice as soon as April 16 to convene on April 24 to consider the bill and vote between April 25 and April 27 aides—on the committee and to members who sit on the committee – confirmed.