Senate aviation leaders from both parties are each proposing to add more than half a billion dollars to the economic stimulus bill to modernize the nation’s air traffic control system.
But, echoing a larger disagreement between the parties in the stimulus talks, whether to offset the new spending or just add to the bill’s overall cost is keeping Commerce Chairman John (Jay) Rockefeller and ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison from backing each other’s amendment and might sink both attempts.
Neither amendment seems likely to survive, as Republican complaints about the overall cost of the bill seem destined to make it difficult for anyone to add even more money.
Far more likely to be added is an amendment Rockefeller and Hutchison have joined forces on that would extend aviation funding and taxes until the end of the fiscal year. The funding and taxes are set to expire at the end of March.
That extension — and agreement by Rockefeller and Hutchison that aviation modernization funding should be in the stimulus — comes as lawmakers will try again this Congress to approve a multi-year FAA bill.