The final vote tally of 12-11 against the amendment means that the bill will move to the next step in the Senate with user fees attached. Eight democrats voted for user fees versus four against. Only four republicans voted for the per-flight fee, compared with seven against. When the vote was tied 11 to 11, Sen.
• Congress took a three-week break on November 16 to allow lawmakers to ponder the results of the election. On December 5 lame-duck lawmakers limped back into session but ran like race horses on the way to the finish line and ended the business of the 109th Congress four days later.
• In view of the enormous funds allocated for hurricane relief ($62 billion to date with more to come) and a mounting budget deficit, President Bush and legislators in both houses of Congress have been pushing programs that would reduce federal spending.
– The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration finally surrendered to Congressional pressure and offered a plan to open Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to general aviation traffic.
• When Congress returned from its summer sojourn, lawmakers had 15 workdays scheduled for September. Very few, if any, were on the books for this month, as lawmakers will spend considerable time preparing for the November elections.
• The House of Representatives approved appropriations for Fiscal Year 2006 for the Department of Transportation. The House bill allocates to the FAA $14.4 billion for operations, $3.6 billion for the Airport Improvement Program, $25 million to hire some 600 new air traffic controllers and $8 million to add more safety inspectors in the aircraft certification and flight standards offices.
•Congress took a legislative break from November 18 to December 12 but, before leaving, both houses passed H.R.3058, the FY2006 Transportation, Treasury and Housing appropriations bill that provides funding for those agencies through September. The bill authorizes $13.8 billion for the FAA, $276 million more than the agency’s budget for FY2005, and $1.1 billion more than President Bush requested.
Raisbeck Engineering has appointed Stevens Aviation of Greenville, S.C., an authorized installation center for the ZR Lite. Stevens, already a Bombardier Learjet authorized service center, has a long history of selling, installing and servicing Raisbeck Performance Systems.
– Congress took a 10-day break over the Memorial Day holiday and on its return faced a number of issues that had been left in the holding pattern. Senate Democrats filibustered an attempt to eliminate the so-called “death tax,” and Republicans fell three votes short of what it would take to break the filibuster, so the current exemptions of $2 million of an individual’s estate and $4 million of a married couple’s estate still stand.
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