Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusJudge boots Green Party from Montana ballot in boost to Tester Clients’ Cohen ties become PR liability Green Party puts Dem seat at risk in Montana MORE (D-Mont.) said today that a long-term authorization of the AATF is needed because short term extensions are hindering the modernization of U.S. airports.

"Last week the Committee heard testimony from the Government Accountability Office on the state of the Trust Fund," Baucus said. "GAO described the importance of NextGen, the satellite-based means of air traffic control.  NextGen will help us make better use of our airspace."

The Senate approved similar tax legislation last year as part of the FAA bill, which the Senate approved in 93-0 vote.

The tax bill considered today would also repeal an exemption from Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF) taxes that is currently given to small aircraft. Language added by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) ensures that the repeal of the exemption only applies to turbojet-powered planes.

It also includes language from Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnThe real disease: Price transparency key to saving Medicare and lowering the debt Mr. President, let markets help save Medicare Pension insolvency crisis only grows as Congress sits on its hands MORE (R-Okla.) that would only allow 90 percent of AATF revenues to be spent each year, to make sure that the fund is not depleted.

The bill also allows tax-exempt bond financing for fixed-wing emergency medical aircraft, which is currently permitted for helicopters.