WASHINGTON - The Senate gave final approval Thursday night to legislation that would allow $800 million in airport construction funds to be handed out to states and localities between now and June 30.
The bill now goes to the House, which is expected to act this week. In addition to the stopgap airport funds, the bill includes a controversial provision that would allow the secretary of transportation to freeze airport fees.
Under the freeze provision, the transportation secretary would have the authority to head off any proposed airport 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 measure is needed because federal airport construction grants have been on hold since Oct. 1, 1993, the start of the current fiscal year. The House passed its version of the three-year Airport Improvement Program reauthorization last year, but the Senate has so far failed to complete action.