WASHINGTON -- The stop-gap measure releasing $800 million through June 30 for airport construction grants was signed into law late last week by President Clinton.

The law includes a controversial provision allowing Transportation Secretary Federico Pena to freeze airport fees. Under the provision, the secretary can block any proposed airport fee increase if he receives a complaint from an airline that the increase is unreasonable.

Municipal market participants have warned that the provision could put some airport bond ratings in jeopardy and frighten investors.

The short-term funding law was needed because federal airport construction grants have been on hold since last Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year.

Separately, the Senate is expected to take up its version of the three-year Airport Improvement Program reauthorization bill during the week of June 13, a Senate aide said. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is working on compromise language concerning airport fees, which originally stalled the bill last year, the aide said.

The House approved its version of the reauthorization bill last year.

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