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"Senate Passes FAA Extension Act Without Aviation User Fees"



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Senate Passes FAA Extension Act Without Aviation User Fees
By Karen Di Piazza
CharterX.com


Late Tuesday evening, the Senate passed a bill (H.R. 6984) that will keep
the Federal Aviation Administration's doors open for business through March
31, 2009. The FAA Extension Act of 2008, via a voice vote, passed the Senate
by unanimous consent. 

The president is expected to sign the bill right away; current FAA
authorization expires Sept. 30. The House passed the short-term FAA
extension Tuesday morning, which allows the agency to continue collecting
and spending tax revenues that keep the aviation system functioning.
Aviation excise taxes, which support the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, will
remain in force. In recent years, the trust fund has provided nearly 80
percent of the FAA's budget.

Once enacted, the bill will provide $1.95 billion in contract authority for
the Airport Improvement Program. AIP funding for the first six months of
fiscal year 2009 will enable airports to move forward with safety and
capacity projects. When annualized, lawmakers said the level of AIP funding
equals $3.9 billion, consistent with both the House and Senate FAA
reauthorization bills, and the fiscal year 2009 concurrent budget
resolution. The bill also includes $4.5 billion for FAA operations, which
includes operating the nation's air traffic control system. 

The previous long-term FAA reauthorization act, Vision 100-Century of
Aviation Reauthorization Act, expired on Sept. 30, 2007. On Sep. 20, 2007,
the House passed bill H.R. 2881, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007, to
reauthorize FAA funding through fiscal years 2008 through 2011. The Bush
administration threatened to veto the bill, as the House booed aviation user
fees. The Senate hasn't been able to agree on a long-term FAA
reauthorization bill; some of its members sided with the airlines in pursuit
of imposing a user-fee system, which would cripple the general aviation
marketplace. As a result, Congress has passed a series of short-term FAA
funding extension acts.

Further bickering on FAA funding will be left to the next White House
administration.


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