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A 23rd Extension?

With the current extension of FAA operating authority expiring on Jan. 31, 2012, Congress will have just six legislative days to finalize a new FAA law upon its return from recess Jan. 17.

Despite hope, Congressional leaders were unable to resolve the difference between the House and Senate passed bills (H.R. 658S. 223) prior to the end of 2011. Except for the contentious provision regarding a rule change to the way the National Mediation Board (the NMB) counts unionization votes at airlines, most issues are apparently resolved.

The NMB provision has fallen to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Consequently, the bill has been neglected as Congress battled a series of more immediate crises, i.e., the budget deficit and the extension of the reduced payroll tax rate. The measure remains a political hot potato as both leaders position themselves to score a legislative “victory” on the matter.

Both Reid and Boehner have signaled their desire to resolve the matter before the Jan. 31 deadline, but given history and the short time available, it is a daunting task.

Many in Washington are looking at the reality of a 23rd extension of FAA operating authority. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica has stated that another extension may contain controversial policy provisions and that the will of the House to pass an additional extension is minimal.

This confluence of events could lead to another shutdown showdown for the FAA.

~~~ posted 12/30/11 ~~~



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