House Subcommittee Approves FAA Funding Bill

This morning the House Transportation/HUD Appropriations Subcommittee marked-up the 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill that contains next year’s FAA funding.  The challenges we identified earlier in the year to funding discretionary spending programs (including the FAA) are beginning to manifest themselves.  First, the FAA numbers:

FY2015 Admin Proposal House
Ops $9.74b $9.915b $9.87b
F&E $2.6b $2.855b $2.5b
RE&D $157m $166m $156.75m
AIP $3.35b $2.9b* $3.35b
Total $15.847 $15.836 $15.876

*Proposal assumes an increase in the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) from $4.50 to $8.00 and focus of remaining funds on smaller commercial and GA airports.

Highlights

  • Contract towers $154.4m
  • Continues prohibition against unauthorized user fees

The proposed legislation provides the FAA an additional $40m above the President’s request.  However, the legislation denies the request to increase the PFC, thereby causing other FAA accounts to absorb a cut in order to level fund airport infrastructure funding.

Now remember, what was approved today is an appropriation bill and therefore subject to change if the FAA reauthorization bill, under development by a different committee, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, makes policy changes that impact spending.  In unveiling the legislation today, House Appropriators acknowledged that fact noting that changes contained in an FAA reauthorization bill could change the numbers approved by the subcommittee today.

In January, I outlined (below) how the Budget Control Act (BCA) allows for a less than one percent increase in overall discretionary spending for next year, to approximately $1.017 trillion.  Last week, the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY) unveiled a set of allocations for development of the twelve annual appropriations bills that total $1.017 trillion, not the $1.091 trillion proposed by President Obama.

Chairman Rogers’ initial allocations include a $1.5 billion increase over current levels for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill.  While that appears sufficient to addressing the Administration’s proposed increases for FAA operations, F&E and RE&D, the Committee noted that reduced offsets in Federal Housing Administration receipts create an actual increase of only $25 million above the current level. The proposed legislation also includes controversial policy riders related to trucking and travel to Cuba.  The Administration opposes spending at the Budget Control Act levels and President Obama has already indicated he will veto spending bills that increase only defense spending above the BCA caps.

It’s unlikely the budget impasse will lead to a government shutdown though operating under short-term continuing resolutions are possible.  As a result, discussions are beginning about the possibility of increasing the discretionary spending caps, similar to the Ryan-Murray deal struck in 2013 that has produced two years of relative budget peace.

By Bill Deere, Senior Vice President for Government and External Affairs

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