The House has approved a $68-billion aviation bill that would authorize $15.8 billion over four years for the Federal Aviation Administration airport construction grants and also let airports raise passenger facility charges (PFCs), another infrastructure revenue source, to as much as $7.00, from $4.50 now. But the White House has issued a veto warning for the bill, contending that the measure doesn't do enough to match aviation users' fees and charges with costs they impose on the system.

The legislation, which the House passed Sept. 20 by a 267-151 vote, would increase the federal tax on jet fuel used by small, "general aviation" planes to 36 cents per gallon, from the current 21.9 cents and boost the general aviation gasoline levy to 24.2 cents per gal., from 19.4 cents now.

Federal aviation programs are set to expire on Sept. 30, and it's likely that Congress will approve a short-term extension bill to keep those programs operating until the new bill is enacted.

In a key provision for the construction industry, the House bill would authorize $15.8 billion over four years for FAA's Airport Improvement Program construction grants. The bill's AIP funding would start at $3.8 billion in fiscal year 2008, then rise by $100 million a year, to $4.1 billion in 2011. Funds would be subject to annual appropriations. The fiscal 2007 appropriation for AIP is slightly more than $3.5 billion.

But the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a Sept. 19 statement on the House bill that its AIP funding levels are "excessive and unjustified." OMB also listed several other objections to the measure and said administration officials would recommend that the President veto it.

The House-passed measure also authorizes $37.2 billion for FAA operations; $15.8 billion for the agency's facilities and equipment program, which includes air traffic control systems; and $1.8 billion for research, engineering and development.

Reps. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) and Ted Poe (R-Texas) sought to add an amendment to delete the bill's increase in PFCs, but their amendment was disallowed by the House Rules Committee Sept. 19.

In the Senate, the Commerce, Science and Transportation has approved a four-year aviation bill that, like the House, recommends $15.8 billion for AIP. It doesn't include a PFC increase.