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Top Senate Republican predicts Congress will likely need short-term FAA extension

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Senate Minority Whip John Thune told POLITICO on Thursday he believes Congress will likely need to pass a short-term extension to the FAA reauthorization bill ahead of next week’s deadline.

“We’re heading to later in the week, next week, we’re going to be up against the deadline. And it seems unlikely that we’re going to have this transacted before we hit that deadline,” Thune said. “There aren’t enough days right now, in my view, at least for us to be able to finish this.”

Negotiations over the FAA reauthorization have been littered with amendment requests. It is the last piece of major legislation the Senate has to address until the fall, making it the last opportunity for members to try and tack on their policy priorities.

A short-term extension at this point would likely require a time agreement, with members slated to leave town Thursday and return next week. Thune said he “would hope at least that getting a short-term extension wouldn’t be controversial,” but that “around here, you just don’t know.”

Others remain more optimistic. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), ranking member on the Commerce Committee, earlier Thursday insisted he still thinks the bill could be wrapped up by next week, though both Cruz and Thune said Senate leadership has still not landed a deal on the amendment requests.

Anthony Adragna contributed to this report.