User Fees Issues Probably Will Force Short-Term Extension of FAA’s Authorization Instead of Full Reauthorization

Update 3/30/2009: President Obama has signed HR 1512 the “Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2009,” which extends through September 30, 2009, FAA authority to: collect taxes that fund the Airport and Airway Trust Fund; make expenditures from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund; and make grants to airports under the Airport Improvement Program.

Update 3/18/2009: The House and Senate have both passed HR 1512, the Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2009, which extends funding for FAA until September 20, 2009.  The Bill now awaits President Obama’s signature.

Various sources are reporting today that the U.S. House of Representatives could vote as early as as tomorrow, March 17, 2009, to extend the FAA’s authorization to operate through the end of September, 2009.

Since the current extension of authorization runs through the end of March, 2009, any such extension must be completed quickly, most likely under suspension of the rules.  The reports are that the bill will focus only on extending the authorization, as is typical with such measures.

The issue holding up the passage of the full FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009 (HR 915) seems to be a battle between excise taxes and direct user charges.  The Ways and Means Committee, which has opposed user fees, has indicated it will not begin to consider the funding measures contained in the FAA Reauthorization Act until after it can examine the President’s budget. The Obama Administration, in its budget guidelines issued last month, stated its desire to eliminate around $7 billion in “aviation excise taxes” and replace them with direct user charges.  Moreover, this proposal has met with opposition from General Aviation, in part for their belief that the “direct users charges” will impact them, and in part because it is not clear which excise taxes the administration wants to eliminate.

The Obama Administration has indicated that it will send its draft FAA Reauthorization Bill to Capitol Hill by mid-April, 2009, along with its detailed proposal for the federal budget.  That should indicate both which excise taxes it proposes to delete and what sort of direct user charges would replace them.

Meanwhile, the Senate Aviation Subcommittee still has a hearing scheduled for March 25, 2009, to discuss the FAA Reauthorization.

Other Posts on FAA Reauthorization:

See also:

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