By Dan Namowitz
January 7, 2011
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee known for his strong statements against general aviation user fees, is again championing a no-new-user-fee letter to President Barack Obama urging him to reject any user fee proposals in his Fiscal Year 2012 budget.
“We want to reiterate that a user fee proposal would be a step backward,” said Costello in a statement released Jan. 7.”This is an issue that we have had bipartisan agreement on in recent years and there is no reason to reconsider it.I will not support a budget or an FAA Reauthorization bill that includes user fees.”
Costello waged a similar campaign in 2009 that received strong bipartisan backing, with 118 House members, more than a quarter of the full House, signing on to a letter urging against user fees. Costello argued then that reopening the debate on user fees for the FY 2011 budget would take Congress’s attention away from the addressing Next Generation air transportation system modernization (NextGen). No user fee proposal was included in that year’s budget.
“The message from the House of Representatives to the White House in this truly bipartisan letter is unmistakable, and we appreciate the members’ staking out their position so unequivocally,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller at the time of the 2009 effort.
In announcing his new letter, Costello reiterated his support for “maintaining the current mechanism of using fuel taxes to support the Aviation Trust Fund.”
“Once again, Congressman Costello has taken the lead against imposing user fees on general aviation” said AOPA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Lorraine Howerton. “The last bipartisan letter spoke volumes and we applaud Congressman Costello for circulating a letter in the new Congress, and we will urge other members to sign the letter to the president opposing user fees.”