Senator: Airline tax part of budget deal ‘collection of cats and dogs’

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said Tuesday that a proposal to double the tax that is paid by airline passengers for airport security as part of a potential budget deal was part of a “collection of cats and dogs” being used to avoid tough fiscal choices.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Jansing and Co.” show, Wicker said it was “disappointing” that House and Senate negotiators were turning to things like increasing the security fee on airline tickets from $2.50 per trip to $5 to raise revenue for a broader government funding deal. 

“What I'm hearing is, we're going to replace about $65 billion worth of appropriation cuts, and we're going to do it sort of with a collection of cats and dogs -- fees on the airline passengers, spectrum sales, and things like that, that don't amount to long-term savings in the next decade,” Wicker said. “That's a little ... disappointing to me.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Wicker said he would prefer a deal that involved making cuts to long-term entitlement programs to replace the automatic spending reductions that were included in the sequestration law that is scheduled to begin its second year in January unless lawmakers reach  an agreement.

“We need to do a down payment that proves we can do a long-term super deal,” Wicker said. “What we need to do this week -- what we need to do December is make some long-term entitlement cuts that will free up a little money so we don't have to take the severe defense sequestration cuts and research cuts that are going to be part of the appropriation process for the next fiscal year. That's what we need to do.”

Wicker said he had a “lot of confidence” in House Republican Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is leading the GOP’s efforts in the budget talks with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

But Wicker said he has questions about whether the rumored budget proposal can win the approval of staunch conservatives.

“I think he knows where we need to be,” Wicker said of Ryan leading the budget negotiations. “The question is, are there the votes to sell this?”