The Senate appears to be on its way to approving President Obama's proposal to double the security fee on airline tickets to $10 per roundtrip, a tax hike we would not welcome. But we're not worried.
Given the inability of Senate Democrats and House Republicans to agree on anything these days, the tax hike stands a good chance of failure.
The airlines claim the bill's failure would mean a $700 million sigh of relief for their overtaxed passengers. According to Airlines for America, Congress should try to improve the efficiency of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) before piling on more taxes.
We agree. There's a lot of things Congress could do before piling on more travel taxes.
The tax hike is part of a broader appropriation bill for the TSA's parent, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), that contains a number of interesting provisions.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) appeared to be particularly proud of a provision to fund the construction -- in her state -- of four more Coast Guard cutters than the administration asked for. Landrieu, who chairs the Appropriations Committee's homeland security subcommittee, also boosted funding for a DHS program that benefits the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City, La.
To be fair, the DHS appropriations bill contains language to expand the Visa Waiver Program, extend customs preclearance to additional airports and improve airport signage for foreign visitors. We welcome these provisions, and the airlines and the travel industry should welcome them too.
But the DHS funding bill is a $45 billion piece of legislation. It's very difficult to believe that, somewhere in that $45 billion, there isn't just enough inefficiency to offset an additional tax on air travelers.