The House yesterday unanimously approved legislation that would extend airport funding for one month and give airports the ability to collect passenger facilities charges, which they often use to repay bonds.

The measure had been introduced Monday by House Ways and Means Committee chairman Sander Levin, D-Mich., and was cosponsored by six congressional members, including Transportation Committee chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., and that committee’s ranking minority member, John Mica, R-Fla.

The bill must still be approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama.

If enacted, the measure would be the latest in a series of short-term extensions that have allowed airports to continue collecting PFC revenue since Sept. 30, 2007, when the most recent long-term aviation authorization law expired.

The current extension is set to expire this weekend. The legislation approved by the House would extend the Federal Aviation Administration and airport-related programs through Aug. 2.

Since 2007, the House and Senate have failed to find consensus on labor issues and, to a lesser degree, on whether to increase the current $4.50 cap on PFCs.

Airport industry groups want Congress to allow airports to collect PFCs as high as $7.50.

They argue that the current charge is not adequate due to factors such as increased construction costs and declines in airline travel and service.

The bill benefits airports by extending taxation and grant provisions. It extends the airport and airway trust fund’s spending ability and its authority to receive fuel tax revenue.

It also authorizes the federal government to provide, for another month, grants from a $3.515 billion airport improvement program. That money was appropriated by Congress for fiscal 2010, which ends in September.

Transportation lawmakers in the Senate yesterday gave an early boost to an unrelated piece of transit safety legislation.

The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee unanimously approved the Public Transportation Safety Act, which would allow states to receive an 80% federal match on selected proposals for safety-oversight programs for rail transit.

It would authorize $66 million over three years to be provided for public transportation safety programs.

The American Public Transportation Association praised the bill but said that Congress should also increase federal investment in public transportation.

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