A new FAA funding bill, one nearly identical to the 2007 House version, was introduced on Feb. 9 by House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn) and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello (D-Ill.). Last year’s House bill was backed by and most of general aviation because it retained the current funding method of fuel and airline seat excise taxes, and did not impose user fees.
The Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2009 authorizes nearly $70 billion for the FAA for the next four years (fiscal years 2009-2012), including $38.9 billion for FAA operations, $16.2 billion for the Airport Improvement Program, nearly $13.4 billion for FAA Facilities & Equipment, and $1.35 billion for Research, Engineering, and Development.
“This legislation is long overdue,” Oberstar said. “Short-term funding extensions and continuing resolutions have led to delays in critical capital projects. Timely passage is needed to sustain FAA’s programs and keep the FAA moving forward on airport development and the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).” Costello added, “We will move this bill quickly in the House, as we did two years ago, and look to the Senate to do so as well.”
The FAA’s previous authorization was set to expire at the end of September 2007, but its taxing and operating authority has been preserved through a series of extensions. The current extension expires at the end of March.
The new House bill was introduced on the same day that a letter signed by associations representing virtually the entire aviation community was sent to key members of Congress, stressing the importance of passing a comprehensive, long-term FAA reauthorization bill as soon as practicable.
Despite the authorization’s failure to pass in the last Congress, Oberstar is optimistic about the new bill’s chances. “We have a new President and a new Congress,” Oberstar said. “This time we’ll get the job done.”