U.S. House to vote on FAA extension, hurricane tax relief

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 25, 2017 12:25 PM

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Monday on a bill to allow the Federal Aviation Administration to continue to operate and a package of tax relief bills to aid hurricane victims over the objections of ranking Democrats.

Authorization for the FAA is set to expire on Saturday. The bill would extend the agency for another six months as Congress debates whether to privatize the country's air traffic control system.

House Democratic leaders on Monday urged their colleagues to oppose the measure, citing their refusal to allow immigration legislation to come to a vote and criticizing additional provisions on healthcare and flood insurance.

"Democrats support reauthorization of the FAA, which is long overdue as a result of Republicans' failure to craft a bill that can obtain bipartisan majority support," the statement said. "It is outrageous that the majority is hijacking the must-pass FAA bill as a vehicle for its pet priorities."

The bill is being considered under fast-track rules that require two-thirds of members to support it.

President Donald Trump in March proposed handing over control of U.S. air traffic control to a privately-operated board, but has faced resistance among Democrats and owners of private planes.

Major U.S. carriers, including American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways, all back the proposal.

The bill would extend three healthcare programs, but would not extend a children's healthcare program and Community Health Centers that are set to expire on Saturday, which is the end of the budget year.

Democrats want to force a vote to reverse Trump's decision to overturn an Obama administration order shielding from deportation immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children.

The bill would make it easier for people with hurricane losses to write them off on their taxes, eliminating a requirement that personal losses must exceed 10 percent of adjusted gross income to qualify for a deduction.

It would also give hurricane victims penalty-free access to retirement funds and temporarily suspends limitations on the deduction for charitable contributions to hurricane relief made before year-end.

The bill provides a tax credit for 40 percent of wages, up to $6,000 per employee, paid by a disaster-affected employer in certain disaster areas.

Democrats also objected to the disaster tax provisions that "leave out important items that were included for victims of prior disasters like Hurricane Katrina."

(Reporting by David Shepardson, editing by G Crosse)