The long-delayed FAA reauthorization bill made its way to the Senate floor March 11, opening the way for a measure to pass that chamber before the Easter recess. The House passed its own three-year reauthorization in May 2009.
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), chairman of the House aviation subcommittee and a vocal opponent of user fees, spoke with AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Tom Haines recently about the reauthorization process. The full-length video of that interview, in which Costello discusses the importance of stable funding for the FAA and the need for continued vigilance against user fees, as well as security issues and perceptions of general aviation, is available on AOPA Live.
Neither the bill previously passed by the House nor the Senate bill now under consideration contain user fees, but, as Costello points out, tightening budgets mean fees could reappear in future FAA funding proposals. Both the House and Senate measures would use aviation fuel taxes, ticket taxes, and a general fund contribution to fund the FAA—an approach AOPA has long supported as the most efficient means of paying for the aviation system and providing stable funding for air traffic modernization and other key initiatives.
The FAA has been operating under temporary funding extensions since 2007. The current extension ends March 31.