The Senate Commerce and Finance committees today reached a deal to update the nation’s air traffic control system. The agreement between Finance Chairman Max Baucus and Commerce Aviation Subcommittee Chairman John (Jay) Rockefeller, D-W.Va., drops a Commerce Committee-approved $25 per-flight surcharge that was opposed by general aviation but supported by FAA and the airlines. It adopts a Finance Committee-approved 65 percent increase in the tax on general aviation, from 21.8 cents per gallon to 36 cents per gallon. Baucus and Rockefeller also agreed to drop a Finance Committee-approved increase in the international departure tax for commercial travel, which would have risen from $15.10 to $16.50. Rockefeller and Baucus stepped up negotiations recently after a months-long impasse, when Senate Majority Leader Reid signaled he wanted to bring the bill up on the floor.
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