The House refused yesterday to consider a measure designed to pour $28.5 billion into the nation's overburdened aviation system, after becoming ensnarled in a dispute among several of its committees.
On a 235 to 178 procedural vote, the lawmakers declined to take up the bill, because of a dispute over a trust fund that helps supply money for airports, the air traffic control system and other aviation expenses.
After the vote, the two sides agreed to a procedural change and prepared to bring the bill to the floor again today.
Members of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee seek to remove the airport and airway trust fund from the general budget. They argue that the fund has developed a $5.6 billion surplus because the administration is slowing spending to reduce the deficit.
"The solution is to expand the system, to spend the money to expand the runways . . . put more computers up in the towers, add more air traffic controllers," said Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.), a member of Public Works.
But members of the Appropriations, Budget, Ways and Means and Government Operations committees have argued that computers and other equipment for which the trust fund money is intended are not ready and that removing it from the constraints of the budget process would not help.
By its vote, the House refused to take up the massive authorization bill without procedures that would allow a vote on removing the trust fund from the budget.