We keep hearing about how there is gridlock in Congress and how nothing can get done. Both sides talk bug about spending cuts and the need to reduce the deficit. The Republicans have even gone so far as to say they will not approve any spending unless the same bill has an equal amount in cuts. Well, just how they hell did the Senate approve 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 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.
It turns out that passage was assured 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. (Good,needed)
* 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. (Good, we need to stand up to the EU on things like this)
* 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. (What? Are they nuts? They are putting the government back in the lending business? Haven't they lerned from TARP, the stimulus and Solyandra? -no wonder nobody has heard about this bill....)
And Now something different. I was sitting around the other day with some friends just talking when some one asked "What is your favorite song?". Now that's a hard one. I know so many that I really like. I was tempted to cheat and say "The Star Spangled Banner" (can't argue much about that) -but then I realized there is one song that has always been my true "favorite". I found a You Tube clip of it to share below. Before you listen to it, you may think my choice of artists is a little strange. I choose Johnny Cash. There are a lot of people who sing this much better -but in his version the words are very clear and you can understand the lyrics, which is part of what makes the song so special.
Live Long and Prosper....