House panel OKs FAA funding plan

A House committee amended and passed a bill yesterday that would reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration modernization programs by using money mainly collected from passenger ticket taxes.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent to the full House for consideration the Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21), which would reauthorize the FAA for five years. AIR-21 would allow the FAA to use money that it collects from taxes on tickets, fuel and departures. Those taxes are deposited in the Aviation Trust Fund and usually are not spent.

The committee passed AIR-21 (H.R. 1000) in March but was required to cut about $18 billion in exchange for the bill's consideration by the House and to maintain a balanced budget. As part of that process, the committee pared back funding for air traffic control programs but still funded them at higher levels than the current baseline of about $2 billion a year.

In the original version of the bill, the account that would fund modernization programs received a total of $15.8 billion over five years. Under the amended bill, this account received a total of $11.5 billion over four years, with increases starting in fiscal 2001.

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