But AOPA Calls Issue 'Far From Resolved'
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on March
5, 2009 approved the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009 (H.R. 915).
The FAA funding bill now moves to the next committee.
"This is an important first step, and we strongly support this
bill," said Craig Fuller, president of the Aircraft Owners and
Pilots Association, "but with the Obama administration's call for
user fees, we know we have a rough flight ahead of us."
In fact, it appears skies will only get choppier from here. The
Transportation Committee largely supported the contention of AOPA,
and other general aviation letter groups, that aviation excise
taxes should continue to fund the FAA and modernization of the air
traffic control system... and not new user fees. However, the
bill's next stop is the Ways and Means Committee... which oversees
Last year, Ways and Means accepted the recommendation of the
Transportation Committee, and passed a companion bill that would
have funded the FAA from fuel taxes and other taxes paid into the
aviation trust fund. But those bills stalled in the Senate, as ANN reported.
The Ways and Means Committee, meanwhile, has indicated it won't
begin to consider this year's funding measures until after it can
examine the President's budget... and details of the budget aren't
expected on Capitol Hill until April.
FAA funding has
continued under a series of temporary measures, the latest one set
to expire at the end of March. During Thursday's mark-up hearing on
H.R. 915, Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN)
said he would reluctantly support another temporary funding
extension until the end of September to allow Airport Improvement
Program funding to continue through the construction season.
Both Oberstar and aviation subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello
(D-IL) said they would prefer quick passage of H.R. 915. "We need
to be maintaining and upgrading facilities to make our economy as
efficient as possible," said Costello.