The United States Senate took steps towards modernizing air traffic control services Thursday when they approved Federal Aviation Administration Bill 87. Senate Democrats brought up the two-year, $35 billion bill, which had wide bipartisan support due to it being funded by ticket, fuel and other taxes and fees that do not require government spending. The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives, which is already working on a measure of its own.
The bill will support a series of upgrades to the air traffic control system, taking it from radars to satellites. Under the Senate proposal, taxes will increase on jet fuel for general aviation and business jets from 21.9 cents per gallon to 35.9 cents per gallon, raising $400 million annually for air traffic modernization.
Senators also approved legislation making it a crime to aim laser pointers at planes, and to misuse images captured in body scanners at airports. Additionally, Senators agreed to raise the number of direct flights from the western states to Ronald Reagan National Airport in the Washington D.C. area.