By: Paul Lowe
With the biennial reshuffling of the U.S. Congress comes the task of reorganizing the general aviation caucuses in both the House and Senate. The GA caucuses are made up of representatives and senators who recognize and support the benefits that GA provides to the nation.
Early last month, NBAA issued a call to action to its members to help restore and expand the GA caucuses, pointing out that in the course of the 2012 elections, the ranks of the caucuses were thinned as members retired or lost their re-election bids. The caucuses will be vital in the coming year, according to NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen, because those serving in the new 113th Congress face a policy environment that could have repercussions for general aviation. Specifically, the uncertain budget situation means that aviation user fees or other onerous proposals could be offered as “revenue raisers” that could help government avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
“As you know, the White House has repeatedly proposed a $100 per-flight user fee to raise revenues for several purposes, including as a debt reducer,” Bolen wrote. “The concept was introduced into the negotiations over debt reduction in 2011, and as those negotiations are taken up again this year, user fees and other ideas for raising revenues could again be on the table.”
The two chambers of Congress established general aviation caucuses in 2009 to help educate members of Congress and their staffs about the role of general aviation. Each caucus holds regular briefings for members on specific issues affecting the aviation industry. The primary goal of the House and Senate caucuses is to work with pilots, aircraft owners, the general aviation community and relevant government agencies to ensure that a safe and vibrant environment exists for GA in the U.S.
During the first week of December, general aviation associations held a reception near the Capitol for members of Congress and their staffs, including Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.), co-chairs of the House General Aviation Caucus. Some of the caucus members serve on House and Senate aviation subcommittees, but many more do not.
NBAA noted that the aviation community has a group of allies in the GA caucuses who have continually worked to inform legislative debates by highlighting the value of general aviation in creating jobs, helping companies succeed, connecting communities and supporting humanitarian endeavors.