CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, March 29, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1079, the Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2011, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. H.R. 1079 was introduced by Rep. John Mica (R-FL) on March 15, 2011, and was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which held a markup the following day and reported the legislation by voice vote.
H.R. 1079 would extend for two months—through May 31, 2011—the authorities of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which are currently set to expire March 31, 2011.
The bill would extend the Airport and Airway Trust Fund through May 31, 2011, including taxes on aviation fuel, domestic and international ticket taxes, and taxes on cargo shipped by air. Currently, these taxes are set to expire March 31, 2011.
The bill would authorize to be appropriated $2.46 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) for the eight month period beginning on October 1, 2010, and ending June 1, 2011. On an annualized basis, the bill would authorize $3.7 billion in AIP contract authority for FY 2011.
The last long-term authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), known as the Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, was passed in 2003 and expired at the end of FY 2007. Since that time, the FAA has operated under a series of temporary extensions. In the 110th and 111th Congresses, the House passed several short-term FAA extensions which were signed into law. The most recent extension, H.R. 6473 in the 111th Congress (PL 111-329), was passed by the House of Representatives on December 2, 2010, by voice vote. Later this week, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011, which would reauthorize FAA operations, contract authority and taxing ability through FY 2014.
The FAA is an agency within the Department of Transportation that oversees and regulates the nation’s aviation system. The Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF), created by the Airport and Airway Revenue Act of 1970, provides funding for the nation’s aviation system through several aviation excise taxes. Funding currently comes from collections related to passenger tickets, air cargo excise taxes, passenger flight segments, and aviation fuels, among other sources.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bill “would provide nearly $2.5 billion of contract authority (the authority to incur obligations in advance of appropriations, a mandatory form of budget authority) for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) through May 2011.” However, CBO’s baseline assumes the continuation of taxes credited to the AATF and contract authority for AIP beyond their scheduled expiration dates. Therefore, spending and taxation levels in the underlying bill are consistant with the current baseline projections and “CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.”