On the eve of the next general election, concern over aviation user fees has only temporarily abated and is likely to resurface when the 111th congress convenes in January, says NBAA's Ed Bolen. The FAA's current funding authorization expired on September 30th and the agency is operating in a funding grace period until the end of next March. Bolen told assembled reporters this week that aviation trade groups made good progress toward a fuel-based, rather than a user-fee-based funding basis before Congress recessed last week.
The House passed a fuel-tax-based funding bill earlier this year, but the proposal stalled in the Senate. When the new Congress convenes, "we'll be starting from scratch," Bolen says. Democrats are expected to make some if not substantial gains in seats in both chambers, but how this will impact the user fee debate is unknown.