Congress Extends FAA Budget to September 30
General Aviation User Fees and ATC Modernization Still Up in the Air
June 25, 2008 - With the FAA budget reauthorization bill stalled in the Senate, both houses of Congress this week passed a continuing resolution to fund the FAA through the end of September 2008. The House passed legislation on Tuesday, while the Senate voted for the extension on Thursday to extend the agency’s existing budget through September 30, 2008.
The budget extension would keep the lights on at the agency for another three months, but it leaves a lot of long-term FAA programs and projects in limbo because no one knows what the final FAA budget bill will include. Among the items left hanging are much-needed air traffic control modernization projects.
The House passed its version of the new FAA budget bill (H.R.2881) in September 2007, without any general aviation (GA) user fees. The Senate version of the bill (S.B.1300) was stalled for months over the issue of user fees. In late April, a compromise between Senate committees removed GA user fees from S.B.1300, but the measure stalled again over labor provisions and other non-aviation issues. If passed, the bills would fund the FAA through 2011.
In their present form, neither H.R.2881 nor S.B.1300 would impose any GA user fees. That is good news for general aviation, but the bills have a long way to go to become law. No one knows what compromises may come out of the process before itís done. And the president has threatened to veto any bill that doesnít include the administrationís proposals, including GA user fees.
The House will be in summer recess until September 6; the Senate until September 8. Given the current deadlock and the upcoming November election, aides say there is little chance that Congress will pass a new FAA budget bill this year. Congress could still act on the existing bills, S.B.1300 and H.R.2881, said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government relations. But, he added, if action is delayed until 2009 when a new president and Congress take office,"we could be back to square one."
"Getting user fees off the table was a hard-won victory for EAA and the general aviation community," Macnair said. ďBut the airlines and the administration are still pushing their user fee proposals and there are still members of Congress who support GA user fees. We need to keep the pressure on Congress to reject the user fee proposals. EAA members need to continue communicating with their senators and representatives, urging them to oppose GA user fees.
"EAA and the GA community will continue to fight user fees and to urge Congress to pass a fair and responsible FAA funding bill," he added. "The voices of individual EAA members will continue to be an essential part of that effort."
Learn more about the user fee issue at www.eaa.org/govt.