Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), one of the featured speakers at the NBAA Convention last year, has stepped up to replace Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) as the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee. Rockefeller retired last year after serving 30 years in the Senate and five as chairman of the Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over aviation matters.
With the Republicans in control, Nelson will serve as the ranking Democrat of the committee, while Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) moves over to the chairman’s position. Thune had worked with Rockefeller as the committee’s ranking Republican since 2013.
Thune, a General Aviation Caucus member, was the 2012 recipient of AOPA’s 2012 Doc Hartranft Jr. Award for his “tireless work on behalf of general aviation in Congress.” Nelson also has pushed a number of key general aviation measures, including authoring an amendment to block new user fees.
“It’s good to know that we have two senators who possess an understanding of the importance of business aviation and the issues our industry faces at the helm in Commerce,” said Dick Doubrava, NBAA vice president for government affairs.