January 25, 2011
During the last Congress, the strength of the general aviation (GA) caucuses in the House of Representatives and the Senate – which provide a venue for members of Congress to learn more about GA – helped the industry weather such threats as a White House user fee proposal and the harmful first draft of the Large Aircraft Security Program. Now, with close to 100 newly elected members in the House, the new leaders the House GA Caucus are rebuilding the caucus.
After the House caucus was founded in 2009, it grew to 125 members, making it one of the largest caucuses in the House. With the start of the 112th Congress, the GA Caucus needs to be reconstituted, so new co-chairs Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.) are recruiting members, circulating a letter explaining the value of GA and inviting their colleagues to join the caucus to learn more.
"There are more than 223,000 active GA aircraft in the United States, which serve nearly 19,000 small and regional airports – many more than the 500 commercial airports in the U.S.," they wrote. "These airports help connect people and industries that do not always have easy access to our commercial airports." They went on to explain that GA contributes more than $150 billion to the U.S. economy annually and is one of the few remaining U.S. manufacturing industries that provides a trade surplus for the United States.
Because 38 members of the caucus either retired or were not returned to the House in 2011, GA supporters are faced with the same challenge they faced at the creation of the caucus – explaining to members of Congress the value and economic contributions of GA.
"In some respects, we’re starting over," said AOPA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Lorraine Howerton. "Many new members of Congress are unfamiliar with general aviation and its contributions to the nation. So it is important to help them understand the economic footprint of general aviation, the jobs it creates, and the jobs it maintains. Congressmen Graves and Barrow have started out strong as the new leaders of the caucus ."
AOPA has called on its members to contact their congressional representatives, explaining that they as constituents believe it is important for their representatives to understand and support general aviation, both in their individual congressional districts and nationally.
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