UPDATE: The Senate has approved legislation to reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration programs for the next five years, including increased funding for the agency's Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which helps finance runways and other airport infrastructure.

The Senate cleared the $105-billion package on May 9 by an overwhelming 88-4 vote.

The measure still requires approval by the House, which had adjourned for the day.

FAA's existing authorization is set to expire at midnight, May 10. To avoid a gap in FAA's funding and provide for continuity in the agency's operations, the House and Senate also approved a one-week stopgap funding measure. President Joe Biden signed the extension on May 10, too.

For construction companies, engineering firms and other infrastructure advocates, the bill's most important provision is its $19.7-billion authorization for AIP.

Of that total, $3.35 billion is for the remainder of fiscal year 2024. The bill also provides $4 billion a year for fiscal 2025 through 2028. The $4 billion is a 19.4% hike over the level provided in the last multiyear FAA bill, which became law in 2018.

The last major hurdle for the legislation was a flareup over a provision to add 10 long-distance takeoff and landing slots at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA).

In the end, the added slots stayed in the package. It was a victory for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and a defeat for Virginia’s two senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats, and Maryland's senators, Democrats Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen.

Cruz argued that the 10 slots were fewer than what had been proposed earlier. He also said it would allow for a nonstop flight between Washington and San Antonio, which he noted is the seventh-largest city in the U.S.

Warner and Kaine offered a second amendment, to give the transportation secretary the power to settle the slots controversy after weighing the effects on delays and safety, but opponents blocked that proposal.

After the final vote, Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement, "the Senate abdicated its responsibility to protect the safety of the 25-million people who fly through DCA every year." They added that the provision will push more flights onto "the busiest runway in America."

Story updated on 5/11/2024 with Biden's signing of the stopgap FAA extension.