The House is set to vote Friday on a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that would renew the agency's funding for another five years.
Besides renewing funding, the legislation also includes provisions directing how disaster program funds are spent, though the measure does not allocate money for those programs.
Because of all the recent disasters and emergency aid packages Congress has passed, a lot of the funding that was allocated still hasn't been spent. The bill would apply to all those still-unspent funds, and any future disaster funds, a Republican aide told CNN.
A total of about $4.35 billion per year would be allocated for the FAA in the legislation. A few major FAA programs would receive funding authorizations. About $3.35 billion per year through 2023 would go to infrastructure, and an additional $1 billion would be authorized for an amendment proposed by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster that would create a report on the agency's Next Generation Air Transportation System to evaluate air traffic control technology.
The bill has garnered bipartisan support in the House and is expect to pass Friday. After that, a Republican aide to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee told CNN they were looking to have the legislation on the Senate floor in May or June and a long-term reauthorization in place by August.
The legislation was formally introduced in the House last week. It previously included a measure proposed by Shuster that would have privatized air traffic control. That measure was taken out of the legislation after Democrats opposed the idea and it became apparent it wouldn't receive the votes it needed to pass.
"Although our air traffic control reform provisions did not reach the obvious level of support needed to pass Congress, I intend to work with Senator (John) Thune (chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee) and move forward with a reauthorization bill to provide long-term stability for the FAA," Shuster said in a statement at the time.
The Shuster amendment that was included would direct the FAA to report on the agency's Next Generation Air Transportation System to evaluate air traffic control technology and submit the findings to Congress. NextGen, which is a plan to modernize the air transportation system, has been, as a Republican aide described to CNN, costly, delayed, and ill-defined over the years.
"The FAA Reauthorization Act will ensure long-term investment in many of the nation's airports," Shuster said in a statement last week. "The bill will also cut the red tape that can bog down our manufacturers and innovators, and allow them to be more competitive and provide more good-paying American jobs."
The legislation also includes language that urges the FAA to investigate last week's fatal Southwest airplane incident, in which one passenger died after an engine failed on a commercial flight.
House Speaker Paul Ryan touted the FAA bill as one of several items GOP leaders planned to bring up this year to boost the nation's infrastructure.
"For families, this will make air traffic and air travel safer and easier," Ryan said. "For workers, it's going to make the airline industry more competitive, which means more jobs. For communities, we are improving disaster relief so that they're better prepared for hurricanes and wildfires."
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