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Congress Fails to Address Long-Term Aviation Funding

Congress passed another short-term extension of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) policy and tax authority today. This measure will only last until Sept. 30, 2017, but will keep the FAA functioning during the busy summer travel season. The previous authorization expired and lawmakers approved a 14-month extension before that deadline, according to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA).

The funding level of the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) will remain at $3.35 billion in fiscal 2017, a level that has not changed in six years.

“It is important to keep the FAA authorization stable, and this is a welcome step from Congress. But jobs will not be created and aggregates producers will not increase tonnage for much-needed airport and runway improvements without additional AIP funding,” said Michele Stanley, NSSGA director of government affairs.

The extension includes some policy changes related to safety and security and provisions for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The bill will increase funding for bomb-sniffing dog teams, direct FAA to detect and mitigate UAS operation near airports. The bill also requires airlines to refund baggage fees if luggage is delayed or lost. Several aviation security provisions, like expanding TSA Precheck, are also included in the bill in the wake of recent airline disasters around the world.