WASHINGTON -- The House gave final congressional approval late Tuesday to legislation that would allow $800 million in short-term airport construction funds to be dispensed to states and localities between now and June 30.

The measure, which was approved by the Senate last Thursday, now goes to the White House, where President Clinton is expected to sign it.

In addition to the stop-gap funds, the bill includes a controversial provision that would allow the secretary of transportation to freeze airport fees. Under the provision, the secretary would have the authority to block any proposed fee increase if the secretary 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 bill was needed because federal airport construction grants have been on hold since last Oct. 1, 1993, the start of the current fiscal year. The House approved its version of the three-year Airport Improvement Program reauthorization last year, but the Senate has not acted.

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