By Dave Bauer, executive vice president of advocacy, ARTBA

Negotiations continue in Congress on a final FY 2018 appropriations package, with the current continuing resolution set to expire March 23. Reports indicate that only the most controversial items are still outstanding and will be negotiated by congressional leaders and President Donald Trump. An agreement earlier in the year on top line spending levels for both defense and non-defense discretionary spending levels is expected to provide a significant boost for transportation construction; not including the $900 million increase in highway spending that was authorized as part of the FAST Act that is also expected to be part of any final deal.

The final spending package is also likely to include a four-month extension of most federal aviation programs that are set to expire March 30. The extension through the end of July should allow Congress enough time to finish a full aviation bill now that Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) has dropped his controversial effort to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system.

One issue left outstanding in the FY 2018 appropriations discussion is whether or not the House will accept the Senate position to increase the Passenger Facility Charge by $4.00, from the current cap of $4.50. This airport user fee dedicated to capital construction projects at airports has not been augmented since 2000.

ARTBA is urging all members to contact their senators and representatives to urge they go along with the much needed user fee increase. See ARTBA’s grassroots alert on the issue.