Congress will have a full plate when members return from their summer vacations. Reauthorization of the FAA will be there, but probably way down the list for discussion or rushed through to leave time for health care, stimulus, and other issues that loom as potential hot issues.
The present temporary extension expires Sept. 30, the last day of this fiscal year. Both Houses need to agree on a bill by that date or pass another extension.
Neither the Senate nor the House versions have user fees, but the issue is not dead. Senator John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, has said he strongly favors user charges but omitted it from this version to get action. The bills under consideration are for only two years, not the customary five.
Speaking at AirVenture, Rep. Thomas Petri (R-Wis.), minority leader of the House Aviation Subcommittee, said that the Senate had indicated it would pass a reauthorization bill (S.1451) by the end of the calendar year. The House passed its reauthorization bill (H.R.915) without user fees in May.
“We want to get to conference to work out a good bill,” Petri said, urging general aviation interests to stay united in opposition to the user fees.