Senate Might Delay FAA Budget Action
With FAA reauthorization still bogged down in the Senate over user fees, staff members are drafting a bill to extend the current aviation excise taxes until after the November presidential election. The House passed a four-year FAA funding bill in September that continues existing fuel taxes–adjusted for inflation–and contains no user fees. The general aviation community supports this legislation. But the Senate Commerce Committee wants to institute a $25-per-flight surcharge on turbine operations, while the Finance Committee is more inclined to proceed along the lines of the House bill. The Finance Committee’s version of the FAA reauthorization bill recommends an all-tax financing plan, which would eliminate the $25 user fee. Since September 30 the FAA has been funded by stopgap measures, the most recent of which expires February 29. Last week, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters accused Congress of playing politics with FAA reauthorization and, as a result, has effectively shut down airport projects due to the lack of a funding plan.