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Senate Beats Deadline, Passes FAA Funding Bill

September 16, 2011 – The U.S. Senate late Thursday barely beat a deadline that would have idled thousands of aviation workers, including FAA staff, by approving the agency’s funding extension through January 30, 2012.

The Senate voted 94-6 in favor of the bill, which is the 22nd temporary extension of FAA funding as work continues on a full FAA reauthorization bill. The House of Representatives had earlier approved the legislation, which has been sent to President Obama for his expected signature today.

If the measure - which also included highway funding through March - had not passed by today, it would have meant furloughs for 4,000 FAA employees and temporary layoffs of an estimated 70,000 working on airport construction jobs. Similar furloughs had taken place in July after temporary funding for FAA was delayed in Congress.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Ok), a longtime EAA member and GA pilot, led discussions that ended the impasse over the legislation. Inhofe’s Oklahoma colleague, Sen. Tom Coburn, had initially placed a hold on the bill because he objected to required highway beautification projects that were included in the measure.

“Righteousness prevailed,’’ Sen. Inhofe said Thursday after voting for passage, according to the Tulsa World newspaper. “This extension will ensure that no FAA workers will be furloughed tomorrow in Oklahoma or anywhere in the nation.’’

EAA continues to urge Congress to finish work on a full FAA reauthorization bill to end the string of continuing resolutions and temporary measures to fund the agency.

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