WASHINGTON — The House Thursday voted 276 to 145 to approve a bill that would increase the maximum allowable passenger facilities charge that airports can collect to $7.00 from $4.50.
Many airports use PFCs to back bonds and have been pushing for years to raise the cap, which was last increased 10 years ago.
The bill would authorize the Federal Aviation Administration through the end of fiscal 2011 and provide more funding for airport construction projects.
The vote cleared the way for a conference committee of Senate and House members to meet and reconcile differences between each chamber’s version of FAA reauthorization legislation.
The Senate bill includes a provision that would create a pilot program for six airports to have full discretion over their PFC rates, provided they collect the revenue themselves instead of tacking it on to airline tickets or requiring airlines to collect it.
The Senate unanimously approved its bill Monday. However, one significant difference between it and the House measure is that it does not include an increase in PFCs for all airports, only for those participating in the pilot program.
The FAA has not been fully reauthorized since it expired in 2007. Instead, lawmakers have kept the various programs and funding provisions alive through short-term extensions, the most recent of which expires at the end of this month.
Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, during floor debate on the bill likened the numerous FAA stopgap measures to movie Groundhog Day, in that Congress is repeating the same action over and over.
The House also unanimously approved a measure to extend the FAA’s current authority through the beginning of July, which could provide time for a conference committee to decide on a final version of a full FAA reauthorization.