The US House Appropriations transportation subcommittee is seeking to send $17.7 billion to FAA in FY2020, $267 million more than the 2019 enacted level and $614 million above the Trump administration’s budget request.

Within the subcommittee’s proposed $10.6 billion operations budget for the agency, roughly $7.8 billion would go toward the Air Traffic Organization, $1.6 billion toward aviation safety activities, $61 million for NextGen planning, $114 million for security and hazardous materials safety, and $25 million for commercial space—all of which are roughly flat from 2019 enacted levels. Of the $10.6 billion earmarked for operations, roughly $9.8 billion will be derived from the Airports and Airways Trust Fund.

The agency would also receive $3 billion for its facilities and equipment budget and $191 million for research, and engineering and development, both unchanged from 2019 levels.

The draft budget would leave Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding flat at approximately $3.35 billion. Within that total, $112.6 million would be earmarked for administrative expenses, $15 million for the Airport Cooperative Research Program, $33.2 million for airport technology research and $10 million for the Small Community Air Service Development Program.

In addition to the $3.35 billion in traditional AIP funding, an additional $500 million in supplemental AIP funds will be made available to airports of all sizes. That is unchanged from 2019, but less than the $1 billion in supplemental AIP funding enacted in 2018.

A provision in the draft budget would also provide $3.5 million to reimburse airports or general aviation ground support providers regarding closures for presidential travel. That reimbursement would mainly be directed to the communities surrounding President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago golf club and resort in Palm Beach, Florida, as well as his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, among other locations.

The contract tower program, as well as the contract tower cost share program, would receive a combined $1.69 million, which is $1 million higher than current levels. The language of the draft bill removes an FAA moratorium on new applicants to the program and requires FAA to run updated cost/benefit analyses whenever cost-share airports request them. It also forbids FAA from eliminating the Contract Weather Observers program at any airport.

The Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes carriers to serve smaller and rural airports, would receive a total of $326 million in funding, including $175 million in discretionary funding and $151 million in projected revenue generated from overflight fees.

That figure is significantly higher than the White House budget request, which looked to reduce discretionary EAS funding from $175 million in FY2019 to $125 million in FY2020, in addition to reforming the program by adjusting airport eligibility and placing a cap on per-passenger subsidies for communities located relatively close to large airports.

Ben Goldstein, ben.goldstein@aviationweek.com