Tuesday, January 31, 2012
House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on a bill to provide the FAA with $15.9 billion in annual funding for the next four years, for a total of $63 billion. See Lawmakers Agree on a $63 Billion, Four-Year FAA Bill That Boosts Air Traffic Modernization, Associated Press, Jan. 31, 2012 (available here). While the full text of the legislation won't be released until tomorrow, key details have emerged. The NextGen air traffic modernization program will continue to be funded at $1 billion annually. Funding for the Essential Air Services program, which subsidizes air transport services to 150 rural communities, will be reduced to $190 million per year and no new communities will be allowed to enter the program. The key compromise on labor provisions reported last week increases the number of workers within a bargaining unit required to petition for union certification from 35 percent to 50 percent. Labor unions have announced their opposition to the provision, but at this point the bill is expected to pass. See Unions Denounce FAA Spending Bill Compromise, Want Senate to Reject It, Associated Press, Jan. 31, 2012 (available here).