FAA Funding Bill Nears Final Approach
As Congress prepared to adjourn for recess just before Easter, the House and Senate were gearing up for a joint conference committee to begin resolving the differences between two versions of a long-term FAA reauthorization bill. The two bills vary significantly, raising some uncertainties about reaching a compromise. H.R.658, the House’s “FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011” preserves the current fuel tax mechanism to help fund the FAA, with no increase in fuel taxes. The Senate’s “FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act” (S. 233) hikes the taxes on jet-A from 21.9 cents a gallon to 35.9 cents per gallon. The House bill is for four years and provides $59.7 billion over those four years, reducing the FAA’s operating budget by 25 percent. S.233 provides $34.5 billion for two years, representing an increase in funding for the agency. Temporary FAA reauthorization passed earlier this year expires on May 31.