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Hudson's bill to limit airline fees passes U.S. House

WASHINGTON — A bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson to limit the Transportation Security Administration’s air travel fees passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
 
The bill, H.R. 5462, will amend section 4490 of the U.S. Code to read that passengers will be charged $5.60 for one-way flights and that charges should not exceed $11.20 for round-trip flights.
 
An aide for Richmond County’s congressman said the TSA was charging passengers the one-way fee for every flight they boarded along their journey.
 
If a trip from North Carolina to California included three layovers, a passenger would be charged for four flights.
 
Airlines for America, an industry advocacy group, says multiple House and Senate leaders affirmed that Congress “did not intend to change the definition of a round-trip cap” when fees were raised from $5 and $10 to the current rates.
 
“While so many Americans today are still struggling to find work and make ends meet, Washington seems intent on making things harder for them instead of easier,” Hudson said in a Wednesday release. “It is ridiculous that middle-class Americans wishing to travel face higher taxes on their flights than are imposed on the sale of alcohol and tobacco.”
 
Hudson, chairman of the Transportation Security Subcommittee, added that he is “very proud that this commonsense legislation to roll back aviation user fees and reduce taxes on airline passengers has passed the House with such widespread bipartisan support.”
 
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, was also quoted in the release, praising Hudson’s leadership.
 
“TSA should not collect additional passenger security fees beyond what Congress has authorized,” he said. “H.R. 5462 is common-sense, bipartisan legislation to clarify the fee structure that Congress intended and protect the traveling public from excess charges on their flights.”
 
The bill also garnered support from the airline industry.
 
“Reinstituting the cap on passenger security taxes is a win for airline customers who are already paying more than their fair share in federally imposed taxes,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio.
 
He went on to “applaud” Hudson and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., for “airline passengers from an excessive government revenue grab, which unnecessarily drives up the cost of travel and jeopardizes air service to (or) from small and rural communities.”
 
On the website stopairtaxnow.com, Calio wrote that the Department of Homeland Security omitted the existing cap when it published the rules on the new fares “(s)eizing the opportunity for a revenue windfall.”
 
Calio said that 21 percent of a $300 round-trip ticket goes to the federal government through 17 taxes and fees on aviation, bringing in more than $19 billion in fiscal year 2013.
 
Thursday, the Transportation Security Subcommittee held a hearing to examine the efforts of the TSA and the Terrorist Screening Center by using the no-fly list as a counterterrorism tool, according to Hudson’s office.
 
The hearing also sought to protect passenger information and offer “redress to individuals who are incorrectly identified or matched to the list.”
 
“The thousands of foreign fighters, including U.S. citizens, affiliated with terrorist groups like ISIS are a growing and serious threat to the security of U.S. aviation and the homeland,” Hudson said. “It is imperative that we accurately identify individuals who pose this threat.”
 
Hudson, R-Concord, will face Dobbins Heights Mayor Antonio Blue, a Democrat, for the 8th Congressional District seat in November’s election.
 
 
Richmond Daily Journal. By: William R. Toler
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