Movement Comes After Months Of Inaction On FAA Funding
Fasten your seatbelts... the legislative gears appears to be
slowly grinding into motion. Aero-News has received a number of
reports that indicate movement in the FAA reauthorization fight,
now stalled in the US Senate.
According to those sources, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
(D-NV) has called for the Senate Commerce Committee's version of
the funding bill, S.1300, to come to the floor for consideration
within one week. The action follows months of comparative inaction
on the bill, which has been stuck in the Senate since late last
"We've heard there's finally some movement on reauthorization,"
said Chris Dancy, spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots
Association. "What we've heard is that Majority Leader Reid has
told Sens. Rockefeller and Baucus that he wants the bill to come to
the floor and that they need to work out a solution that will allow
that to happen."
As ANN reported, the House of
Representatives passed its version of legislation to fund the FAA,
H.R. 2881, on September 21 of last year -- days before funding for
the FAA ran out. However, a vote by the Senate on S.1300 has been
pending for months, while the FAA continued to be funded through a
series of extensions to the now-expired prior funding bill.
Just because the Senate bill has been stalled, however, does not
mean the issue has been forgotten these many months... by those
within or without the lawmaking body. In February, Senator John
Rockefeller (D-WV) told a Senate Commerce Committee hearing the FAA
funding bill was doomed to failure "based on the GA community's
inability to compromise" on agreeing to a $25-per-flight user fee
for most turbine aircraft flying under IFR flight plans, as called
for under the Senate reauthorization bill S.1300.
The senator asserted the fee is necessary to pay for
modernizing the air traffic control system... and Rockefeller
believes GA doesn't want to pay its fair share. "I blame it on them
because we can’t work it out," the senator asserted.
Rockefeller's bombast was nothing new. In July 2007, Rockefeller
joined then-fellow Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) in slamming GA for its
reluctance to adopt the fee -- which isn't included in the House
reauthorization bill -- and threatened the GA community outright
if it didn't step in line.
A separate reauthorization bill, S.2345 -- created by the Senate
Finance Committee -- does not include the per-flight user fee. For
a Senate plan for FAA funding to come to vote, S.2345 will need to
be reconciled with S.1300... and at this point, it's anyone's guess
whether that reconciled bill will include the $25 surcharge.
And even when that finally happens, the battle won't be over
yet... as both the House and Senate bills will then have to be
reconciled, consolidated, and voted on, before heading to the White
House for final approval.