FAA funding bill stalls in Senate

May 6, 2008

FAA funding bill stalls in Senate

By AOPA Communications staff

Members react to veto threat

By AOPA ePublishing staff


The White House veto threat certainly pushed the hot button for a lot of AOPA members. Pilots made this clear in the e-mails and phone calls that flooded AOPA headquarters.

There is no support for a recommendation by the president’s advisors that he veto an FAA funding bill if it does not contain user fees or give the airlines greater control over the air traffic control system. In fact, there is a strong sense of frustration.

“President Bush and the other bureaucrats in the capital need to pull their heads out of the sand regarding the user fees,” e-mailed one member. “Yeah, let’s give greater control of the air traffic system to the airlines. They’ll load that up just like they have the airports at specific times so that nothing will move. Then they’ll blame that on the GA guy who avoids those same congested airports because the airlines have tendered them unusable due to the over-saturation.”

In a letter to President Bush, another member opposed user fees and airline control saying, “Both provisions clearly indicate that the Federal Aviation Administration is reinventing itself as the Federal Airline Administration. I believe that this is wrong-headed and will serve no purpose for supporting aviation.”

Other members used stronger language.

One stated that although he had voted twice for President Bush, he now has “lost all respect for him.” And another said, “User fees must NOT be levied on the GA community. The President must not act with such callous regard for the GA community.”

The U.S. Senate on May 6 failed to garner enough votes to limit debate on the FAA funding bill after concerns centered around nonaviation issues.

The parliamentary procedure considered by the Senate is called a cloture vote and would have limited debate to 30 hours. It would not have allowed any amendments to be offered. Had it passed, it is likely the bill would have been approved by the full Senate.

Unfortunately, the political debate over nonaviation provisions caused the FAA bill to be withdrawn for further consideration. The bill also prompted a veto threat by the president.

“AOPA is disappointed that after so much work to reach compromise on the financing, it was derailed by other issues,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer.

The FAA is currently operating under a temporary funding measure that expires on June 30.

“Our hope is that the Senate will be able to reach agreement on this crucial legislation during that time and pass a bill that funds the FAA, including the Airport Improvement Program and air traffic control modernization, and does so using the current tax-based funding system,” Boyer added.

Updated May 7, 2008