Rural flight funding could end under GOP reign: House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee criticizes subsidies

rural flight fundingA proposal discussing rural flight funding will be introduced today by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica. It could end the $200 million federal program that subsidizes rural air service by 2013, coverage in Bloomberg states.

The proposal, part of a $59.7 billion package, is part of a funding plan for the Federal Aviation Administration. Republican lawmakers such as Mica have criticized the government subsidies of rural air services like Essential Air Service, saying that the government “can no longer afford the program at a time of high deficits.”

The program was created by Congress in 1978 to combat small airlines losing flights as a result of degregulation. Congress’ 17 temporary extensions of the current law expire on March 31 and disputes in both the House adn Senate have prevented any long-term extension, over issues ranging from how many flights from the western U.S. should be allowed into Ronald Regan National Airport to individual taxes and subsidy funding for specific states and airlines.A $34.6 billion Senate version of the bill, which protects Essential Air Service, is pending on the floor of that body. The Senate bill is two-year legislation while the House version funds the FAA for four years.

[Flickr via keithreifsnyder]