EXCEPT THAT they both concern airlines, there is no logical connection between the deregulation bill and the anti-noise bill that have been passed by the House of Representatives. But the House's leadership is doing its best to find one. The aim is to link the two as they go to conference with the Senate so that the controversial noise bill can piggyback its way into law on the strength of deregulation.
Leaders of the House Public Works Committee haven't been quite that blunt yet about their intentions, but the signals they have sent out are clear. They originally said they would wait for word on the Senate's plans for the noise bill before going to conference on the deregulation bill. Chairman Harold T. Johnson (D-Calif.) explained that he wants "to work these two bills together" because noise is the top priority of his committee while deregulation is regarded as more important in the Senate. Now they are planning to start the conference, but Chairman Johnson has indicated it may never be finished if the Senate rejects the noise measure.
The Senate should not be bullied by tactics of that kind. The deregulation bill is one of the most important pieces of pending legislation. It is a large step toward curtailing federal intervention in economic life and cutting back the bureaucreacy. It would increase competition in the airline business substantially, and that could well mean lower fares. The noise bill, on the other hand, is a piece of legislation that is suspect because of the unique method of by which it shuttles tax money to the airlines with little government participation or control. The link between the two bills that Rep. Johnson is attempting to establish suggests that the price of deregulation is to be the $2 billion in tax revenue that would be handed over to the airlines.
The version of the deregulation bill that was passedby the House does not differ vastly from that approved by the Senate last April. It meets many of the goals set by the administration months ago, and its most troublesome point seems to be its guarantee of subsidized "essential" air service to all communities now having it. If the House insists upon tying that bill to one that helps the airlines pay for part of their anti-noise equipment through an unsound new tax mechanism, the Senate might consider simply passing the House deregulation bill as it stands.