House Passes FAA Funding Bill; Senate Next Up

Last week, the House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 915, the 2009 version of an FAA funding authorization bill. The legislation is said to be virtually identical to the House bill that passed in 2007, only to be defeated in the Senate. Like the 2007 House proposal, this year's funding bill does not include user fees, but rather aims to fund the FAA through airline ticket taxes and general aviation fuel taxes. The new legislation would fund the FAA through 2012 without the specter of user fees, though it is generally supposed that the existing taxes would go up. Two years ago, FAA funding legislation was torpedoed not for its core content (including the preference for fuel and ticket taxes over user fees) but rather based on a series of controversial, non-aviation-related amendments that were tacked on as it made its way through the lawmaking process. This year's bill calls for an FAA budget of $70 billion over the next four years, enough to effect implementation of the so-called NextGen air traffic modernization plan. General aviation groups generally support an increase in fuel taxes to fund the GA portion of the NextGen cost.