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"Veto Threat Hangs Over House Transportation Bill"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Veto Threat Hangs Over House Transportation Bill 
By Adrian Schofield
Aviation Daily 

The White House yesterday issued a veto threat against the House
appropriations bill that includes FAA funding for fiscal 2008, with
administration officials accusing lawmakers of spending too far above the
budget request. 

The House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill
includes "an irresponsible and excessive level of spending," and also
includes "other objectionable provisions," The White House Office of
Management and Budget said in a policy statement. The Transportation and
Housing bill is scheduled to be debated on the House floor today. 

OMB said the bill contains $3.4 billion more than the administration request
for these programs, part of a government-wide $22 billion overall increase
in FY2008 spending proposed by the House. The White House is issuing similar
veto threats against other spending bills. 

This is the second time in the past two months the administration has issued
a veto threat against legislation crucial to FAA. The White House said it
would likely veto the FAA reauthorization bill if it included a House
proposal to reopen the air traffic controller contract. 

Regarding the FY2008 appropriations bill, OMB said the White House has asked
Congress to "live within the President's top line" and cover any spending
increase through reductions elsewhere -- except in the defense spending
bill. "Because Congress has failed to demonstrate such a path, if [the
Transportation and Housing bill] were presented to the President, he would
veto the bill." 

OMB specifically identifies program spending cuts proposed by the
administration that were reversed in the House bill. These include the
Essential Air Service program, and FAA's Airport Improvement Program (AIP).
These cuts are "programmatically justified," OMB said. The White House also
objects to a one-year extension of the war-risk insurance program for
domestic carriers in the House bill. The administration had proposed
"reforms... that ensure that air carriers more equitably share in the risks
associated with this program." 

OMB also criticized the House bill for not realigning FAA budget accounts,
as recommended by the administration. The House bill retains the familiar
Facilities & Equipment, Operations and AIP budget lines. OMB said the
realignment would "provide greater transparency, improve management of
resources, and complement the reforms proposed" in the FAA reauthorization

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