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House FAA Reauthorization Passes, Again Without User Fees

May 22, 2009 — The House has passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009 (H.R.915), which would continue funding the agency through 2012 using excise taxes on fuel and airline tickets and a general fund contribution, but no user fees. The bill would provide $70 billion for FAA programs, including NextGen funding, between fiscal years 2009-2012.

EAA has strongly supported H.R. 915, particularly because it is a multi-year authorization and continues the successful, long-standing system of revenue generation for GA through fuel taxes. The final bill closely resembles one passed by the House last year, but stalled in the Senate.

While H.R. 915 does not impose user fees, it does include a moderate increase in taxes on GA fuel as had been agreed in the 2007 reauthorization bill. Consistent with the prior compromise not to implement user fees on general aviation operations, the bill raises taxes from 19.3 cents per gallon to 24.1 cents per gallon for aviation gas and from 21.8 cents per gallon to 35.9 cents per gallon for jet fuel used in noncommercial operations. The increase in fuel taxes is specifically designed to help fund the modernization of the air traffic control system.

The House Transportation Committee has been consistent rejecting user fees as a means of funding the FAA or air traffic modernization. The Senate will now take up H.R. 915 or introduce its own legislation. To date, two hearings on the FAA reauthorization have been held by the Senate Commerce Committee’s aviation subcommittee but no reauthorization bill has been introduced in the Senate.

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