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House votes to cap TSA fee

WASHINGTON -- The House voted Wednesday to cap a Transportation Security Administration fee on airline tickets to prevent the agency from collecting an estimated $60 million per year more than lawmakers intended.
The Senate must still consider the bill. But the House goal, approved on a 423-0 vote, is to cap the fee at $5.60 per flight and $11.20 per connecting flight. The previous fee had been $2.50 per flight capped at $5 for connecting flights.
Congress ordered the new fee to reduce the deficit $12.6 billion over the next decade. If the agency collected more, the money would pay for security.
When TSA implemented the higher fee July 21, the agency interpreted the fee to apply to each segment of a flight when connections were longer than four hours.
The result sparked an outcry from airlines and business travelers who string together numerous connecting flights that could result in multiple fees. Complaints focused on higher costs discouraging travel and the fact that the fee was primarily focused on deficit reduction rather than better security.
The trade group Airlines for America, which represents the largest carriers, is asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the fee hike.
Nicholas Calio, the group's CEO, said the bill "sends yet another clear signal to the administration to rescind its attempt to increase the cost of airfare."
Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said the bill corrects a fundamental flaw in the fee that could cost $20 or more per trip. But his group will continue to push for any TSA fee hikes to benefit travelers who pay them rather than deficit reduction.
In floor debate, Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., said the legislation aims to correct TSA's "overreach and save American taxpayers from having to shell out millions of dollars in extra fees."
USA Today, By: Bart Jansen
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