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USA: Congress to Block Tighter Rules for Air-Cargo Battery Shipments .

Lawmakers agreed on a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration for four years, reaching a deal on a host of issues including a provision designed to block tougher rules on shipping rechargeable batteries on cargo planes.

The bill, agreed to on Tuesday by House and Senate negotiators, authorizes the FAA through fiscal 2015 and provides more than $63 billion in funding for the agency. The bill includes language sought by makers of laptops and cellphones that effectively blocks tougher federal rules on shipments of rechargeable batteries on cargo planes.

The final bill prevents the agency from mandating tighter controls on lithium batteries unless U.S. or foreign air-accident investigators produce “a credible report” that such rechargeable batteries “substantially contributed” to an aircraft fire.

A spokeswoman for the FAA, which previously moved to embrace tougher regulations, declined to comment.

Pilot-union leaders lobbied lawmakers to oppose the language, arguing that Congress shouldn’t micro-manage or impede aviation safety rules or require proof of a battery-caused accident before permitting the FAA to impose tighter restrictions in that area.
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