By Warren Morningstar
The House of Representatives on Feb. 12 passed yet another extension on aviation taxes and the FAA’s budget, then promptly jabbed a finger at the Senate to take action.
The Senate approved the House extension without debate on Feb. 13. But the extension does not resolve the FAA funding issue; it just pushes the next day of reckoning to June 30.
“The House has done its job on aviation,” said Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “Our colleagues across the way in the other body have not acted.... And if we don’t act, the FAA just simply runs out of money.”
The House passed its FAA funding bill (H.R.2881) back in September. But the Senate has yet to resolve differences between its two funding bills—S.1300 from the Commerce Committee that includes a $25-per-flight user fee, and S.2345, the Finance Committee’s bill, which has no user fees. The previous FAA authorization legislation, which allowed the government to assess aviation taxes and authorized the FAA to spend money, expired Sep. 30. Since then, the FAA has continued running on a series of temporary extensions.
Oberstar said that the House was again extending temporary FAA funding to June 30 in order to keep pressure on the “other body” to take up action on a permanent FAA funding bill. He said that the House FAA bill had passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, “yet the other body sits over there in splendid isolation as though nothing else in the world matters.”
The House extension bill (H.R.5270) would also allow the FAA to start spending Airport Improvement Program funds until June 30. Airport funding has been frozen since Sep. 30 when the previous FAA authorization bill expired.
But the Senate has to approve the House extension bill or pass one of its own. The current extension is only good until Feb. 29.
“We cannot take the necessary steps to improve our aviation system while we limp along on temporary extension bills,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “And we thank Chairman Oberstar and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) for their leadership in creating an FAA funding solution.
“We need the Senate to pass a permanent FAA funding bill, without user fees, so that we can move to the future.”
Updated February 14, 2008