[Archive Home][Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]


"House Committee Plan Would Boost Passenger Fees to Fight Terrorism"

Tuesday, May 7, 2002

House Committee Plan Would Boost Passenger Fees to Fight Terrorism

WASHINGTON -- The House Appropriations Committee leadership is proposing
to add billions of dollars to President Bush's antiterrorism budget --
and asking airline passengers to pay a greater share of burgeoning
airport security costs.

New security fees enacted last fall would double to $5 a passenger as
part of an emergency spending bill being crafted in the House. The
package would add an estimated $3.2 billion to the White House's
requests for the final months of this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
The fee increase -- expected to raise $1.5 billion annually --
illustrates conservatives' pressure on lawmakers to keep the total cost
of the bill to less than $30 billion. Even the White House budget office
would absorb a cut of $750,000.

The draft bill, estimated at $29.8 billion, outwardly appears to be $1.4
billion more than the administration requested. But when all the cuts
and offsets are counted, the differences are much greater and the
changes reflect Congress's demand to have a greater role in the war
against terrorism.

In the short term, Mr. Bush is promised greater license to help Colombia
in its war against leftist insurgents. But elsewhere, the committee,
jealous of its power of the purse, is reluctant to give Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld the sweeping new unilateral spending powers he
has sought. The panel also is challenging the president's management of
the new Transportation Security Administration authorized last year to
improve airport security.

The proposed bill won't come before the full committee until Wednesday
morning, but legislative documents circulated Monday are sharply
critical of the TSA, which lawmakers say has failed to give them
requested information about its ambitious plans. The administration's
budget proposal of $4.4 billion in new emergency funding for the agency
would be trimmed by $400 million, and a ceiling of 45,000 imposed on
full-time personnel -- 23,000 less than the work force envisioned by TSA
by late next year.

Among the major spending increases, the largest single piece is an extra
$1.8 billion for the Pentagon, including increased funding for the
National Guard and Reserves.

All told, defense and intelligence agencies account for about half the
total cost of the package, and among the items added by lawmakers is $93
million to replace three special-operations helicopters lost in
Afghanistan operations and increased funding for body armor that has
proved effective for ground troops there.

Within foreign-aid accounts, an estimated $150 million is provided to
assist in the reconstruction of Afghanistan -- $110 million more than
the administration sought. And given the rapid return of refugees to
their homes there, $10 million is added to existing funds for

Among domestic agencies, the bill adds about $522 million to the
administration's request for homeland security. The Federal Bureau of
Investigation is promised about $92 million to improve the security and
availability of its data files to intelligence agencies, and within the
Energy Department, at least $135 million is added to better safeguard
science and nuclear-weapons facilities, as well as the transport of
nuclear materials.

   Post your comments in the CAA Legislative Forum


Current CAA news channel: