Senate Finance Committee Inches S.1300 Closer To House Bill
September 26, 2007 — The day after the U.S. House of Representatives soundly passed its GA-friendly HR 2881 FAA reauthorization bill last week, the Senate Finance Committee approved a version of S. 1300 that mirrors the excise tax increases included in the House bill. (Avgas from 19.3 cents to 24.1 cents per gallon, 21.8 to 35.9 cents per gallon for non-commercial jet fuel, and maintaining the 4.3 cent-per-gallon tax on commercial airliner jet fuel).
Unfortunately the bill still includes the $25 user fee on IFR flight plans for all turbine-powered aircraft. Many observers, however, feel an expected amendment to do away with the user fee has a good chance of passing when S. 1300 is debated on the Senate floor, bringing the bill into conformity with the House bill. During his visit to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh last summer, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that he planned to offer such an amendment. A similar motion was narrowly defeated in the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this year.
If an amendment to remove the user fee is not successful, the funding is otherwise in harmony for both bills increasing the chances that it would be removed in conference.
One potential deal breaker is the threat of a presidential veto, according to the White House, over a provision included in the House version to reopen contract negotiations between the air traffic controllers union and the FAA.
?We?re pleased with the direction this is going,? said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. ?Congress has recognized that there is no need to develop user fees, and the accompanying bureaucracy to support them, if the shared goal is building NextGen and the modernization of our ATC system. Despite the massive efforts of the airline lobby, the grassroots efforts of pilots and their associations throughout the country are clearly working.?
S. 1300 may not be considered by the full Senate until after the October 8-12 Columbus Day recess, requiring both chambers to pass short-term extensions to allow the FAA to operate under the current legislation after the September 30, 2007, deadline.
It?s not over, so keep making your calls, sending letters, e-mails and faxes in support of HB 2881 and removal of the $25 user fee in S. 1300!