House Committee Says "No" to User Fees

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The House Ways and Means Committee has passed, essentially intact, a tax bill that supports the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's version of FAA reauthorization and does not include user fees. In a unanimous voice vote Tuesday, the Ways and Means Committee voted in favor of increasing the tax on avgas from 19.3 a gallon to 21.4 a gallon and the tax on jet fuel from 21.8 to 35.9 a gallon and the extra money will only be used for airspace modernization. The committee also declined to adopt any of the measures proposed by the airline lobby, which GA groups have been saying would result in a tax break for the airlines. "We applaud the Committee for rejecting user fees and instead building upon a proven, stable, reliable and ultra-efficient system of fuel taxes that clearly reflect aviation system use," said NBAA President Ed Bolen.

With both key committees backing the bill, it would be unusual for the full House not to support the measures as they stand and that vote could happen within days, according to AOPA. What will happen in the Senate is another story, however. The Senate's version of the bill contains a $25 per flight fee that GA groups say will open a Pandora's box of future user fees. There's no word on when the Senate will get its version moving, but it could be as early as this week. The House Ways and Means Committee version includes an extension of the existing funding formula until the end of the year to allow all those discussions to take place.