Deal Reached on FAA Bill
The Senate finally has an aviation reauthorization bill to consider after the package was delayed by last-minute negotiations.
It is likely to come to the floor early this week.
But it was not until late Friday that Senators on the Finance and Commerce, Science and Transportation committees emerged from meetings with a deal.
While most Senators had left town, negotiators on the two committees were still talking out different proposals to raise money for the modernization project. Finance and Commerce were trying to find middle ground between two competing proposals that would guarantee enough funds to support the Airport and Airway Trust Fund over the next three years.
A proposal pushed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security, to add a $25 tax on tickets did not make it into the final package.
Rockefeller ultimately agreed to the Finance Committee’s idea for a general aviation tax that would increase the jet fuel tax by 14 cents to 36 cents per gallon. The additional tax is expected to raise $720 million for AATF by 2011.
A Rockefeller aide said the Senator was always open to scrapping the tax idea for any offer that would guarantee enough money for the modernization project.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had scheduled the reauthorization bill for debate, even though final details of the aviation bill had not been finalized.
Democrats charged Friday that Republicans would move to obstruct the bill as they claim the minority has done with 67 other pieces of legislation so far this year.
Senate Republicans shot back that there was nothing to obstruct, since talks were still ongoing.