FAA Funding/User Fee Debate Stalled
It is expected that more popular matters might easily absorb the attention of senators through the end of the year and FAA reauthorization -- the government's decision on how the FAA is funded and whether or not you'll be paying user fees -- will await the attention of a new year. As it stands, the Senate Finance Committee is at odds with the Commerce Committee about how the FAA's ADS-B powered "next-gen" airspace management ideal should be funded. The Finance Committee supports the continued use of excise taxes, while the Commerce Aviation Subcommittee has sought departure and additional jet fuel taxes, plus a proposed $25 per flight surcharge. Reauthorization has been extended twice without the formal approval of a new plan. The current deadline is Dec. 14, but insiders stress the main issue is where the funds will come from, not whether the funding will be there. Still, there are other complications.
A current House provision would have the FAA and the air traffic controllers union submit to binding arbitration to resolve a contract dispute previously solved when the FAA moved to impose its work rules on the controllers.