Senate approves sweeping aviation bill, sends to White House

WASHINGTON Mon Feb 6, 2012 7:37pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate approved a $63 billion bill on Monday that funds U.S. aviation programs for four years and authorizes new steps for the government to modernize the air traffic system.

Senate lawmakers cleared the measure by a 75-to-20 vote, sending it to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature. The House of Representatives approved it last week.

The compromise legislation sets out a blueprint for predictable funding of the Federal Aviation Administration, which receives about $15 billion annually to operate air traffic control centers at more than 400 airports.

The agency also inspects commercial aircraft and oversees airline safety operations and airport improvement projects.

The agency has operated under 23 straight temporary spending bills since the previous long-term law authorizing its budget expired in 2007. The current stop-gap spending measure expires February 17. A fight over federal spending prompted a partial shutdown of the FAA last summer for two weeks.

Congress has fought for the past four years over federal spending levels, fees, limits on airport uses and government subsidies for service to rural communities.

Passage was assured, however, when House and Senate negotiators struck a surprise compromise last month on a provision affecting union elections at commercial carriers.

The deal partially rolled back a regulatory change that made it easier for labor groups to organize. More than a dozen unions objected strongly to the compromise and launched a last-minute lobbying push to head it off.

Other key provisions of the four-year bill include:

* Roughly $3 billion annually for the next phase of transforming the U.S. air traffic system from one based on radar to one relying on global positioning satellites.

* A congressional statement opposing a controversial European Union law that makes airlines globally pay for emissions from their aircraft when flying over Europe. The Obama administration also opposes the measure and is trying to get European states to resolve the matter at the United Nations.

* A provision permitting the Transportation Department to offer loan guarantees to airlines to help them pay for air traffic modernization equipment needed on their planes.

* A $190 million annual outlay for subsidizing airline service to rural communities.

(Editing by Todd Eastham)

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Comments (2)
BlueBelly wrote:
WTF!!! up with the Dems! The Unions needs to build their infrastructural around the Dems that’s the only way you get respect. If the Unions are good enough for the NFL, NBA ,MLB, NHL and Hollywood and Music Entertainers all represent millionaires, then why and the hell it’s not good enough for shop workers.The millionairess athletes, celebrities knows collective bargaining is what keep their salaries high. They have excellent sports/entertainment agents. The American workers have a lousy agent. Everything seems to be slanted to the rich taxes and even unions. This is about fairness this goes to the heart of the President Obama/ Democrats election strategic. Not fire up and not ready to go!….Yet!

Feb 06, 2012 11:55pm EST  --  Report as abuse
OneOfTheSheep wrote:
@BlueBelly,

Unions are the champions of favoritism and mediocrity who “raise wages” by artificially restricting the number of “qualified” workers and denying work to all to refuse to join and “pay to play”.

Non-union workers who demonstrate their worth by work of higher quality or quantity are told to “back off”. Those who would advance by means of personal exceptionalism simply have place in a union shop where advancement and promotions are the prerogative of the Union and not the employer.

In our schools, unions protect the teachers who just go through the motions. They mandate the laying off of the innovative and/or the more successful in teaching skills, insisting the process be on the basis of seniority. Results are ignored. That’s one of the major reasons American schools are in a race to the bottom of the western democracies.

Self-interest through collectivization is the direct road to a society like Venezuela, or Cuba.

Feb 07, 2012 12:39am EST  --  Report as abuse
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