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July 11 — The House quickly approved an FAA extension bill (H. Res. 818) by voice vote. The Senate would have to move the legislation before Congress recesses this week.
The legislation would extend authority for Federal Aviation Administration programs and related taxes through September 2017. It would mandate a number of airport security enhancements, including increasing the number of bomb-sniffing dogs, and direct the FAA to detect and protect against drones flying near airports. The FAA also would be directed to streamline its process for hiring air traffic controllers.
The bill would make several airline service changes including requiring carriers to refund bag fees if the luggage is lost or delayed and ensure that children age 13 or younger are seated with their families.
Current FAA spending authority expires July 15. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranking member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said the short-term patch was acceptable, though he wished it were longer and included more substantial policy.
“While I would have rather moved a comprehensive long-term FAA reauthorization, this legislation reflects a bipartisan compromise that provides more than a year of certainty and includes a number of time-sensitive safety and security provisions that will better protect our nation's airspace and air travelers,” he said.
Lawmakers punted on passing a long-term bill after the House failed to advance a six-year FAA reauthorization (H.R. 4441) that would have removed air traffic control from the FAA and did not take up a Senate-passed version that would leave the air traffic control structure intact.
However, H.R. 818 includes many of the security measures from the Senate's reauthorization bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor July 11 that he expected the Senate to clear the FAA extension and send it to the president's desk by the end of this week.
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