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House passes landmark aviation billHouse passes landmark aviation bill

House passes landmark aviation bill

The U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday evening passed the Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21 or H.R.1000), which would permit all taxes collected from aviation users to be spent on aviation programs.

AIR-21 would “unlock” the Airport and Airway Trust Fund by taking it “off-budget,” allowing spending to match income. The aviation trust fund, which is financed by taxes on aviation fuel, airline tickets, and cargo shipments, has built up a multi-billion-dollar surplus expected to reach $9.5 billion by 2000. General aviation pilots pay into the trust fund “at the pump” through a tax on fuel.

The House passed the bill 316 to 110.

AIR-21 would allocate over $4 billion a year to Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants to airports over four years beginning in 2001, compared to $1.95 billion AIP received for this year. The bill would boost spending for FAA facilities and equipment as well as the agency’s annual operations.

AOPA has long advocated spending the entire aviation trust fund surplus on aviation programs, and the association strongly supported AIR-21. AOPA frequently called on its 350,000 members to help in the campaign to pass AIR-21.

Earlier in the evening, the House rejected an amendment to remove the trust fund off-budget provision from the bill and eliminate the portion of the FAA’s budget traditionally financed from the general fund. AOPA worked furiously until the vote was taken to defeat that amendment. AIR-21 allocates 23 percent of the FAA’s budget from the general fund to supplement the aviation trust fund’s contribution.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

June 15, 1999

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