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Senate: NextGen Fully Funded, GA Fuels Research Partially

September 23, 2011 – The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee this week approved full funding for the NextGen air traffic system modernization as part of the FAA appropriations bill but only partially met the requested funding level passed by the House for the unleaded avgas research program for which EAA and other GA organizations have pressed.

Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government relations, pointed out that the appropriations bill differs from the FAA reauthorization bill that has been awaiting final House/Senate conference agreement.  Authorization establishes or continues the FAA and/or its programs including the collection of tax revenue from aviation fuel sales while the appropriation process provides budget authority for the agency for specified purposes.

Ultimately the budget authority from the appropriations bill is enacted through reauthorization.  This two-step process is often confusing but the two bills are required to fully fund and operate the FAA.

In addition to fully funding the NextGen program, the Senate committee approved funding for these programs important to GA:

  • $3.5 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which is used for the maintenance and upgrade of airports nationwide. This funding significantly exceeds the level requested by the White House.
  • $1.5 million per year for “alternative general aviation fuels” research as opposed to $2.5 million annually approved by the House over a five-year period.

The full Senate must approve the appropriations bill, followed by reconciliation with the House version in conference. EAA will work with House and Senate Conferees in an effort to insure that unleaded avgas funding is ultimately passed at the level appropriated by the House.

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