The House and Senate Appropriations Committees on June 27 approved legislation to fund DOT and FAA for fiscal year 2014, which begins Oct. 1.
The House version includes the following provisions, among others:
AIP Funding: $3.35 billion in AIP funding. Of the $3.35 billion, the bill designates $106.6 million for administration of the program, $15 million for the Airport Cooperative Research Program, and $29.5 million for airport technology research. The House bill does not include funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Program. The measure continues the prohibition on the use of AIP funds for "the replacement of baggage conveyor systems, reconfiguration of terminal baggage areas, or other airport improvements that are necessary to install bulk explosive detection systems."
FAA Contract Tower Program/Cost-Sharing Program: The bill designates that there be a minimum of $140 million in dedicated funding for the contract tower program, including $10.35 million for the cost-share program.
FAA Cost Free Space: The measure once again includes a AAAE-supported general provision prohibiting FAA from requiring airports to provide space free of charge in airport-owned buildings.
Small Community Air Service Development Program: The bill does not include funding for the program.
Essential Air Service: The legislation provides a total of $216 million for EAS, $27 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted funding level. The committee report accompanying the bill notes that lawmakers are concerned about growing EAS costs and encourage DOT to "explore reforms to the program that will create greater competition among carriers and control overall costs." Notably, the House bill includes language prohibiting the use of funds "to provide essential air service to communities that require a rate of subsidy per passenger in excess of $500."
Airport Cooperative Research: The bill proposes $15 million in AIP funding for the Airport Cooperative Research Program.
FAA Operations: The bill includes $9.522 billion for FAA operations, $185 million below the level requested by the administration and $132 million below the amount provided in fiscal year 2013.
ATC Modernization (FAA Facilities and Equipment): The bill proposes significant reductions to $2.155 billion for the FAA F&E account, which funds NextGen programs
FAA Research, Engineering, and Development: The measure proposes $145 million for FAA research, engineering, and development, a reduction from the $166 million request.
The Senate committee-approved bill proposes $15.92 billion overall for FAA, while the House bill provides only $15.15 billion. AIP is funded at the same level in both the Senate and House bills, but proposed funding for other areas of the FAA budget, particularly the facilities and equipment account, vary significantly.
The House bill proposes F&E funding at only $2.155 billion, a decrease of $575 million from the fiscal year 2013 level and $623 million below the amount requested by the administration. In contrast, the Senate draft bill proposes $2.730 billion for FAA F&E. For FAA operations, the House bill proposes to fund FAA operations at $9.522 billion, which is below the requested level of $9.7 billion. The Senate proposes to fund operations at the requested level of $9.707 billion.
The Senate bill proposes $140.35 million in dedicated funding for FAA's Contract Tower Program, including $10.35 million for the cost-share program.
Both bills now advance to the full House and Senate for consideration. Following passage lawmakers must reconcile the separate versions of the legislation.