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"Congress Set to Adjourn/DOT, Other Spending Bills Punted to Next Year"


Friday, December 8, 2006

Congress Set to Adjourn/DOT, Other Spending Bills Punted to Next Year

Airport Legislative Alliance
Airport Alert


Re:                  Congress Set to Adjourn/DOT, Other Spending Bills Punted to Next Year


Date:               December 8, 2006         


The end of the 109th Congress is in sight with lawmakers scrambling to conclude business for the year and get out of town.  While there will undoubtedly be a rush of activity in the hours ahead, the most notable development for airports will be what this Congress fails to do before adjourning – completing action on the fiscal year 2007 Department of Transportation funding bill, along with eight other annual spending measures.  When all is said and done, only two of the 11 annual bills funding the federal government – the Department of Defense spending bill and the Department of Homeland Security spending bill – will have been enacted into law even though the fiscal year began in October.  The remainder of the federal government will be operating under the terms of a continuing resolution that provides temporary funding though February 15. 


Although it is difficult to predict exactly how the new Congress that convenes in January will tackle the pending funding bills, it is reasonable to expect that they will start the process where the previous Congress left off.  On the DOT spending bill, the House approved its version of the measure in June with $3.7 billion for AIP, some $950 million above the President’s request.  The bill that was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in July included $3.52 billion for AIP.  The ALA summary of the House and Senate Committee-approved versions of the FY 2007 DOT spending bill can be viewed at:  http://www.aaae.org/government/100_Airport_Legislative_Alliance/200_Airport_Alerts/088_2006_Airport_Alerts/legdescription.html?Alert_ID=794. 


While we appear to be in good shape on a number of airport priorities for FY 2007, there is no doubt that we will need to be active early in the year in pressing Congress to fully fund key programs like AIP.   Stay tuned for future Alerts and calls to action on key DOT funding issues.         


In-Line EDS Installation May Also Receive Attention Early Next Year

In addition to tackling DOT and FAA spending early in the year, the incoming leaders of the House and Senate have announced plans to quickly implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.  In light of that fact, AAAE President Chip Barclay and ACI-NA President Greg Principato sent a letter to key lawmakers on November 16 urging that they follow the Commission’s recommendation to expedite the installation of in-line EDS systems at additional airports by providing increased funding for that purpose.  The letter, which can be viewed by clicking here, notes that the most direct approach for boosting EDS installation funding is to increase from $250 million to $650 million the amount of revenue from the $2.50 passenger security fee that is required to be devoted to in-line EDS installation. 


While it is clear from our discussions with folks on the Hill that there is an interest in doing more to expedite the installation of EDS equipment, there appears to be some reluctance to try and tackle the issue as part of the effort to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations.  At this point, the legislation is still very much a work in progress, and we intend to continue our efforts to gain additional funding for in-line EDS installation.  Individual airports can also help with the cause by contacting their congressional delegations to push for additional in-line EDS funding as part of legislation implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.  Below are a few talking points to use as you contact your House Members and Senators:


Talking Points 

·         I am calling/writing to ask that Representative/Senator ____ work to increase funding for the in-line installation of explosive detection equipment in airports as part of legislation Congress will soon consider to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. 

·         Specifically, I urge Representative/Senator ____ to support increasing from $250 million to $650 million the amount of revenue from the $2.50 passenger security fee that is required to be devoted to in-line EDS installation.

·         The 9/11 Commission recommended expediting the deployment of in-line EDS systems because in-line systems improve security, produce significant budget savings that can be used for other security-related priorities, and enhance traveler convenience.

·         Now is the time for Congress to follow the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation and provide additional resources for these critical projects that will quickly improve security and save billions in scarce federal funds. 


A Final Thought…

Next year promises to be incredibly busy and challenging with unfinished appropriations bills for fiscal year 2007, new funding bills for 2008, security-related legislation, and an FAA reauthorization bill to consider, among other things.  Enjoy the brief respite, and get ready to go.  Happy Holidays! 

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