By Kathryn A. Wolfe, CQ Staff
Congressional Quarterly Today
June 27th, 2008
The Senate cleared a three-month FAA extension Thursday, after yielding to Republicans who insisted that Democrats drop their efforts to add $8 billion to cover anticipated shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund.
The straightforward extension (HR 6327) was passed by voice vote after Jim DeMint, R-S.C., objected to an attempt by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to add $8 billion for the Highway Trust Fund.
The House passed by measure by 422-0 two days ago. It would extend through Sept. 30 the authority of the Federal Aviation Administration to collect and spend aviation-related taxes and would provide contract authority for the Airport Improvement Program for the rest of fiscal 2008.
Reid asked DeMint if he would accept a $6 billion infusion into the highway fund, but DeMint said no.
DeMint said use of the FAA bill to address the highway funding shortfall was “inappropriate,” arguing that Democrats could have used savings from a recently passed highway law technical corrections bill (HR 1195), but decided to put those funds into member earmarks instead.
“Instead of taking that savings and putting it back in the trust fund, we used it to add additional earmarks and to put more money into projects that were there,” DeMint said. “There’s been no intent by this body to try to look at the problem with the trust fund. Certainly it’s something we need to deal with but not as part of the aviation bill.”
Reid said the Senate would have to find another way to fix the trust fund.
The new FAA extension will give Congress through the end of the fiscal year to work out remaining disagreements on a four-year reauthorization bill (HR 2881, S 1300). The House has passed its version, but consideration stalled in the Senate over disputes about airline pensions and other items.
Source: CQ Today Round-the-clock coverage of news from Capitol Hill. ©2008 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Source: CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY