WASHINGTON - The House has passed legislation to speed government contracts to modernize the aging fleet of tanker planes that dump suppressants on Western wildfires.
The legislation would waive a 30-day waiting period that's required before the Forest Service can award contracts for seven new tankers.
The agency says it wants to award the contracts, but has to wait until late June to make it official. The Senate passed the measure Thursday. The House vote clears the bill for President Barack Obama's signature.
The tankers wouldn't go into service for months, but supporters say it's important to move as quickly as possible after accidents last weekend caused the loss of one of the 11 available air tankers and grounded another for repairs.
ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press
The Associated Press