The House Rules Committee cleared for House consideration yesterday a measure that would give the airlines an estimated $3 billion over the next five years to help them buy quieter airplanes.
Committee action sending the "noise" bill to the House floor for a vote also removed a potential obstacle to House consideration of legislation to reduce federal regulations of the airline industry.
The deregulation bill at one time was considered the more controversial of the two.It appeared to be hostage for the noise bill, which has become increasingly more controversial as the airlines began reporting record profits for the last six months.
Rep. Harold (Bizz) Johnson (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Public Works Committee, and other sponsors of both measures had insisted that the noise bill be considered first by the House.
Two weeks ago, Johnson pulled the deregulation measure off the Rules Committee agenda after it had failed the day before to agree on whether and under what conditions the noise bill would go to the House floor.
Now that the noise bill has been cleared, Rules probably will be asked next week to take up the deregulation measure, a Public Works Committee source said yesterday. Neither bill is expected to come up on the House floor until after the House returns Sept. 6 from its Labor Day recess.
The bill cleared yesterday is designed to aid the airlines financially in meeting federal noise standards. It would:
Divert 2 percentage points of the current 8 percent domestic ticket tax for use by the airlines to buy new planes or modify the old ones. The full 8 percent now goes into a fund to build and maintain airports, terminals and other air facilities.
Divert 2 percentage points of the current 5 percent tax on domestic air freight to the airlines as well. Raise the current departure tax on flights to foreign countries from $3 to $10 where the fare is more than $100; the tax on flights costing less than $100 would be $2. These monies as well would be earmarked for the airlines' use.
Establish a 5 percent tax on air freight leaving the United States.
All the taxes would be in effect until late 1983.
The Rules Committee rejected by a 6 to 9 vote a proposal by Rep. John Anderson (R-Ill.) to allow the House to consider an amendment by Rep. Charles Vanik (D-Ohio) that simply would reduce the ticket tax from 8 to 6 percent and permit the airlines to ask the Civil Aeronautics Board for a 2 percent fare increase.
"I think this proposition is sufficiently controversial . . . that I think it would be wise to permit the whole House to decide this question," Anderson said. He said the measure would establish "a long-term precedent."