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Coats opposes airline fare increase

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., voted Wednesday in favor of the homeland security appropriations bill, although he opposed an increase in airline ticket fees to pay for beefed-up security at airports.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal 2012 spending measure, worth $41 billion, by a 29-1 vote. It next goes to the full Senate for consideration.

The bill would spend $666 million less than fiscal 2011, $2.6 billion less than President Obama sought and $408 million more than a bill passed by the House, according to the committee.

Coats, ranking Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, introduced an amendment to remove a provision raising airline ticket fees by as much as $6 a ticket.

"The user fee provision included in this legislation - whether called a fee increase or a tax hike - is not appropriate for an appropriations bill," Coats said in a statement. "While I recognize that we must fund security measures at our airports, I do not believe a fee increase on Americans should be attached to this bill."

Coats' amendment failed by a single vote on the Democratic-controlled committee. He said he plans to revive the amendment when the bill is debated on the Senate floor.

The appropriations bill includes $6 billion for disaster relief, $4.2 billion more than sought by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Coats said he is "pleased this bill includes critical disaster relief that will help Hoosiers and Americans rebuild from devastating storms and flooding that have impacted communities in our state and across the country."