WASHINGTON -- The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority cannot use proceeds from new bond issues at Washington National Airport but can use the money at Dulles International Airport, under a federal court order issued this week.
E. Lynn Hampton, the authority's chief financial officer, said the authority still plans to come to market with a bond issue in January.
Judge Joyce Hens Green of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia filed the order Monday and made it retroactively effective to June 17. That is the same day a 6-to-3 ruling of the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional a review board composed of members of Congress that oversaw the airports authority.
The ban on the use of new bond proceeds at National will remain in effect unless Congress fixed the law to pass constitutional muster. But work at National financed by bonds that have already been issued is allowed to continue.
Under the regime struck down by the Supreme Court, a board composed of nine members of Congress reviewed actions taken by the authority's board of directors, such as the authorization of bonds. The review board had already approved the issuance of $1.9 billion of bonds, of which about $500 million have been issued.
The high court found the arrangement violated the Constitution's separation of powers requirement because the veto power it gave Congress over the authority's actions more properly belonged to the executive branch.
Under Judge Green's order -- which had been worked out in advance by the authority's lawyers and those representing Citizens for the Abatement of Aircraft Noise Inc., which launched the lawsuit -- actions already authorized by the review board can continue to be undertaken by the authority.
But in reaching that accord, the authority agreed not to issue bonds intended to fund improvements at National Airport until lawmakers draw up an alternative to the review panel.
Authority officials have expressed optimism Congress will craft a new governing board for the authority before adjourning sometime this fall. They are hopeful because the authority cannot take final action on a budget for the 1992 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, under the court order.
Under the law that establish the authority, the review board had final say over the authority's budget.
The antinoise citizens group is made up of people who live near National or along the flight path leading to the airport. The group is opposed to the expansion of the airport, a somewhat antiquated facility that opened in the 1940s and has been largely untouched by improvements since then.
Despite the airport's age, it is extremely popular among members of Congress because it is a short, 15-minute drive from Capitol Hill and located on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.
The review board was set up in 1987 by the District of Columbia and Virginia. Its establishment was a congressionally imposed prerequisite to transferring control of National and Dulles airports to the regional authority from the Federal Aviation Administration.
One reason Congress mandated the board was to keep opponents of the refurbishing from forestalling renovations when control of the facilities passed to the authority.