That’s the question raised by a Wall Street Journal commentary on Wednesday. The procedural rules that would allow it to happen are complex — the sausage factory analogy certainly applies — but according to the WSJ, Congress could pilfer the $10 billion per year raised by airline excise taxes (and GA fuel taxes) and use it to balance the budget so they don’t have to impose higher taxes on the middle class — as they would otherwise have to, under their own rules, to balance the budget. This sleight of hand will be made possible only if the House allows general tax revenue to fund the FAA. Thus, according to the WSJ, there is a major political incentive for Congress to change the FAA’s funding structure, to solve their own political problems. Meanwhile, the House passed a bill on Tuesday that would extend the authorization for most FAA programs through December, according to rotor.com. U.S. Rep. Tom Petri (R.-Wisc.), a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee, said the bill “simply continues aviation programs under the same terms and conditions as were in effect on September 30, 2007,” when the last full authorization expired.
(Editor’s Note: A better question is, how many times has Congress done just that in the past, and is this the real reason that the representatives who favor additional user fees want them?)