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House panel boosts rural air service subsidies

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – Tea party lawmakers from rural areas were among those fighting the hardest to preserve taxpayer subsidies for airline flights into and out of small towns last year after senior Republicans tried to eliminate the oft-criticized program. Now, the House Appropriations Committee is awarding the program an 11 percent budget hike.

Next year, the subsidies would reach a record $214 million under a bill the GOP-run committee approved Tuesday.

The subsidies can reach hundreds of dollars per ticket _ and can exceed $1,000 in a few cases _ though a recent overhaul of the program will soon take care of such cases.

Last year, the House voted to eliminate the program in the continental U.S. by 2013. But rural tea party lawmakers were among those who fought to save it.

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