House Committee Rejects User Fees

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The House Ways and Means Committee passed an FAA reauthorization bill on Tuesday that has no user fees for general aviation. The legislation still must pass through the Rules Committee before heading to the House floor, but that could happen within a week. If the bill passes as is, fuel taxes would increase -- from 19.3 cents per gallon for avgas to 24.1 cents, and from 21.8 cents per gallon to 35.9 cents for Jet-A -- but all of that increase would go to pay for airspace modernization. AOPA and NBAA both were pleased with Tuesday's vote, and hopeful that it's the beginning of the end for user fees. But the end is still some distance away, since the Senate version of the FAA bill remains in play. The Senate bill contains a $25 per flight fee that GA groups say would open a Pandora's box of future user fees. Once passed, the two bills must be reconciled before a final version is sent to the White House for approval. AOPA President Phil Boyer said he was pleased with the House committee's vote. "This bill ensures that there will be more than enough money to pay for air traffic control modernization," he said. "General aviation is willing to pay more to improve the air traffic control system, unlike the airlines who wanted to change the entire FAA funding system to obtain a huge tax cut for themselves." NBAA President Ed Bolen also was congratulatory. "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," he said.