FAA Shutdown Averted in the Senate; Dems Agree to Give States Discretion on Bike and Pedestrian Projects

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 06:22 PM

(Washington, DC) Senators have reached an agreement allowing Congress to temporarily authorize federal transportation law and also avoid another shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Senators on Thursday evening agreed to move ahead with a combined bill temporarily re-authorizing both the FAA and federal surface transportation legislation known as SAFETEA-LU. The bills were being held up by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) who wanted to cut a section of the bill mandating spending on non-vehicular "enhancement" transportation projects like pedestrian paths and bike lanes.

Coburn temporarily used procedural maneuvers to prevent the bill from reaching the Senate floor. But Coburn agreed to lift his objections under a deal reached Thursday evening. In exchange, a permanent highway bill currently in House-Senate negotiations will contain language allowing states to opt-out of giving states more flexibility on "enhancement" spending mandates.

About 60 percent of funds under that provision, known as Transportation Enhancements, go to biking and pedestrian projects. Other uses range widely.

Both Coburn and Senate Democratic aides confirmed the deal.

FAA's current authorization is due to expire Friday at midnight. The FAA shut down for several days early last month because of House-Senate agreements on labor rules and rural air subsidies. This week's brief  standoff raised the prospect of a second FAA shutdown, which leaders of both parties were trying to avoid.

The bill extends FAA's authorization until January 31st and the highway bill until the end of March.



Comments [2]


Transportation in Washington, D.C.

Metro Center is the transfer station for the Red, Orange, and Blue Metrorail lines.
According to a 2010 study, Washington-area commuters spent 70 hours a year in traffic delays,

Sep. 17 2011 09:38 AM
John Hopkins

It's interesting that here, as well as at Politico and The Hill, no source is given for the assertion that Democrats agreed to an opt-out provision. At America Bikes, Caron Whitaker is quoting Sen. Barbara Boxer, chair of the public works committee, as saying "there is no opt-out option." I'd believe attributed info sooner than unattributed. Wouldn't you?

Sep. 16 2011 02:12 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.