President Bush has signed a stopgap measure that will allow the Federal Aviation Administration to resume approving new airport construction grants after a hiatus of nearly two months. The new bill, which Bush signed Feb. 28, also authorizes the federal government to continue to collect aviation taxes and draw from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, but the legislation only extends through June 30.
The measure is the latest in a series of short-term aviation extensions since last fall. Bush signed it the day before the previous extension was to lapse. The stopgaps have been necessary because Congress has failed to approve a new multi-year aviation reauthorization bill to succeed the one that expired Sept. 30.
The House did pass a four-year, $68-billion FAA bill in September, but things have stalled in the Senate, where the Commerce and Finance committees have different ideas on how the aviation system should be financed.
The newly enacted extension also permits FAA to avoid having to furlough about 4,000 employees on March 1.