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Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill passes Senate ahead of key deadline.

On Thursday, the Senate approved a major bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), just in time for a key deadline. The bill, which had bipartisan support, will renew the FAA’s authority for the next five years and aims to boost aviation safety, strengthen protections for passengers and airline workers, and improve airport and air travel infrastructure across the country.

Next, the House must pass the bill before it goes to President Joe Biden for his signature.

The legislation will provide over $105 billion in funding for the FAA and $738 million for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) from 2024 to 2028. The bill covers a range of topics, including measures to address the shortage of air traffic controllers, improved consumer protections for flight cancellations and delays, and technology to reduce the risk of runway collisions. Despite broad bipartisan support, the bill sparked debates on some provisions.

One contentious issue revolved around the addition of longer-distance flights at Reagan National Airport, just outside of Washington, DC. A group of Senate Democrats from the area opposed the move and pushed for an amendment to remove this provision from the bill. However, there were no votes on amendments, so the provision stayed.

Some lawmakers believe that adding flights will offer consumers more choices and lower prices, while others argue that it will lead to increased congestion and delays at the airport.

The House voted on Wednesday to approve a one-week extension for federal aviation programs, providing a temporary solution as the deadline approached. This move pushes the deadline for FAA reauthorization to next Friday, May 17. The Senate approved the extension on Thursday night, allowing the House more time to finalize the package. If all goes according to plan, President Biden will sign it into law soon.

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