Airport construction grants will continue to flow for another month, following the enactment of a bill extending Federal Aviation Administration programs through April 30.

President Obama signed the bill into law on March 31, the White House said.

The new stopgap is the 12th FAA extension since Sept. 30, 2007, when the last multi-year aviation bill lapsed.

Final congressional action on the latest extension came on March 26, just before the start of a two-week recess, when the Senate passed the measure by unanimous consent. The House had approved the bill the previous day.

The new stopgap was signed just hours before an earlier short-term FAA extension was due to expire.

The Senate and House have approved different versions of a multi-year FAA bill and the additional month's authorization will allow lawmakers to begin to reconcile those differences when they return from their spring break.

For construction, the main focus at FAA is the agency's Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which helps finance work on runways, taxiways and other projects. AIP's appropriation this year is $3.5 billion.

Passing another short-term FAA bill may seem routine, but a controversy over highway funding caused some bumps in the path.

In the House, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) had sponsored a three-month FAA extension that the chamber passed on March 17. Besides the aviation provisions, that bill also had language redistributing $932 million in highway funding that was contained in the recently signed HIRE Act.

 Among other things, the HIRE Act extends the highway and transit programs through Dec. 31 and strengthens the Highway Trust Fund through a transfer from the general fund.

Oberstar contended that the way the HIRE Act parceled out the $932 million in road funding favored "a small, select group of states--with four states receiving 58% of the funding and 22 states receiving nothing." He added that the language "would create a permanent windfall for these four states, and would unfairly skew the highway formula."

Oberstar had worked  out a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)  to have the highway funds reallocated to all states, according to an existing formula.

Reid had said in a Feb. 26 letter to Oberstar and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi  (D-Calif.) to "make every effort to include these provisions in the next jobs bill passed by the Senate, which we hope to accomplish in the next few weeks."

Oberstar saw the three-month aviation extension as the next measure that could carry the highway change. But when that bill got to the Senate, it stalled, reportedly at the request of unnamed senators. 

With the passage of the "clean," one-month FAA measure, the highway-aid change  that Oberstar advocates has yet to be put in place.

 House transportation panel spokesman Jim Berard says that in the committee's view,
changing the  distribution  of the $932 million in highway aid is necessary "as soon as possible," so the allocations under the HIRE Act don't  become permanent.