Cloture Vote Monday On Four-Year Reauthorization Plan
On Friday, the Senate
Finance and Commerce Committees reached agreement on a common bill to fund the
Federal Aviation Administration for the next four years... putting
an end to seven months of bureaucratic stalling on the measure.
According to numerous news reports, the bill maintains a 65
percent increase on fuel taxes for business-jet operators to fund
upgrades to the nation's air traffic control system, from 21.8
cents to 36 cents per gallon.
Conversely, the compromise bill does not include a $25-per-trip
fee originally proposed for turbine-powered aircraft on IFR flight
plans, which was bandied by West Virginia Senator Jay
Under the Senate plan -- the result of a compromise struck by
Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Finance
Committee chairman Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) -- a new $400 million
FAA account dedicated to upgrading ATC services to
the much-bandied "NextGen" system will be created, with the
increase in the fuel excise tax on Jet-A for
bizav users contributing another $240 million annually on
top of that.
"This agreement is a good down payment toward ending the growing
inequities that exist between airline passengers and corporate jet
users," Rockefeller said Friday.
In a bit of good news for airline passengers -- at a time when
they could really use some -- the compromise also holds
passenger fees and taxes to current levels, though the House
version of the FAA funding bill (H.R. 2881) would raise those
charges. Apart from that significant difference, the Senate bill
(S.1300) closely mirrors the House plan, which was approved back in
News of the compromise agreement was met with measured approval
by the National Business Aviation Association. "We applaud the
continuing work Congress has done on this very important issue,"
said CEO Ed Bolen.
US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will hold a cloture
vote Monday, April 28, at 1730 EDT on the bill. Reid will hold the
vote to limit debate on a motion to proceed to the FAA
reauthorization bill, putting a cap on the never-ending debate that
has stalled the legislation in the Senate since September 2007. The
vote would also prevent senators from filibustering.
"We are deeply appreciative of the leadership of both the Senate
Commerce and Finance committees, in particular Chairman
Rockefeller, in crafting a bill that recognizes the importance of
not adding new taxes on airline passengers during a time of
skyrocketing fuel costs," noted James C. May, president and CEO of
the Air Transport Association. "The modest increase in what
corporate jets would pay is a step in the right direction, but we
note that it still falls short of the costs they impose on the
In related news, ANN received late word Friday the bill also
includes language on a so-called "passengers bill of rights"