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Democratic lawmaker opposes new travel fee in budget deal

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, sent a letter to House budget leaders Tuesday asking her state to be exempted from a Transportation Security Administration fee hike in the budget proposal.

“Such an increase would have a negligible budget impact for the nation, but would create undue hardship for Hawaii residents who have extremely limited transportation options,” she wrote in a letter to budget negotiators Reps. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, and Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat.

Some Republicans and conservative groups have come out against the fee increase, which they call a tax hike in disguise, because a portion of the funds collected will be deposited into the general Treasury fund for deficit reduction.

Ms. Gabbard, however, is against the hike because of the importance of air travel in her home state of Hawaii. Without an inter-island highway or ferry system, airplanes are the only way Hawaii residents can travel to work, get health care or visit family, she said.

The fee would increase from $2.50 per flight, with a maximum of $5 per one-way trip, to a $5.60 flat fee per trip.

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