Says FAA Funding Plan Does Not Do Enough To Curb Delays
Some potential bad news for H.R. 2881, the House plan to
reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. On
Wednesday, the White House threatened to veto the measure should it
come across the President's desk.
Dow Jones Newswires reports the Office of Management and Budget
said the bill "falls far short" of what the White House believes is
necessary to reduce flight delays.
"It would make the status quo worse by undoing progress achieved
in prior Congresses," OMB said, adding that President George W.
Bush's "senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill."
Sponsored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman
James Oberstar, D-MN, the bill would authorize funding for the FAA
for fiscal years 2008 through 2011. Current funding for the FAA
expires at the end of this month.
H.R. 2881 is supported by most general aviation "letter groups",
as it does not call for broad "user fees" for pilots of small
aircraft. As ANN has reported, the
costs of pilot certificates, airworthiness certificates, and
aircraft registrations would rise under the House plan, as would
the current fuel tax -- 21.8 cents per gallon to 36 cents per
gallon for jet fuel, while avgas would see a 25 percent increase,
from 19.3 cents per gallon to 24.1 cents per gallon.
Still, that's seen as a far better deal than the FAA's plan --
which calls for sweeping user fees for GA and bizav pilots. It is
also considered less onerous than the Senate plan also under
consideration, which would place a $25 per-trip charge for IFR
flights for many turbine aircraft... though piston aircraft pilots
wouldn't be hit with any additional fees.
Two last-minute amendments added to
H.R. 2881 during final committee voting in June -- calling for the
FAA and controllers to return to the bargaining table in contract
talks, and a shifting in labor rules governing local businesses in
forming unions -- spelled trouble for White House approval of the
House bill early on.
Little was said Wednesday about such bureaucratic minutiae,
however... as the OMB chose instead to focus on the hot-button
issue of flight delays.
Contrary to assertions by the Government Accountability Office
-- that the FAA is funded adequately at current levels to support
its planned overhaul of the air traffic control system -- OMB
maintains the agency's revenues must be more closely tied to costs,
in order for NextGen to succeed.
H.R. 2881 was approved Tuesday by the US House of
Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, setting the bill up
for a full House vote Thursday.