GA supporters in Senate join fight against user fees

March 12, 2012

Another letter is headed to the White House to tell the president that the administration’s proposed $100-per-flight user fee faces a cold welcome on Capitol Hill.

Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), co-chairs of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, spearheaded a letter to President Barack Obama March 9, publicly stating their strong opposition to the administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal to establish a new $100 user fee on certain GA users. In total, 28 senators—mostly members of the GA Caucus—signed the letter to Obama.

“The Administration’s proposal would bypass the existing per-gallon system and create a new bureaucratic regime within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to collect a new user fee,” they wrote. “We believe the per-gallon tax assessed on aviation gasoline and jet fuel is the most efficient and effective way to generate revenue from aviation users.”

The senators also raised safety concerns. User fees proposed in the fiscal 2013 budget could create a “disincentive for pilots and aircraft to use air traffic control services or fly in controlled airspace.” That could result in a less safe flight environment, they said.

The new letter’s Senate signers offered the recently passed multi-year FAA reauthorization bill as a policy framework for funding the nation’s aviation system.

“This bipartisan bill was able to pass Congress in part because it did not assess new user fees on GA,” they wrote.

“We applaud the senators who have signed this letter, as it demonstrates that they clearly recognize the value of general aviation. On behalf of our 400,000 members, we are grateful for their leadership and steadfast support” said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs.

The letter was the second strong and early signal from Congress that, just as in years past, the administration’s user fee proposal would go nowhere in 2013. AOPA reported March 2 that 195 House members had signed a letter to Obama noting growing opposition to the new proposal and the failed history of past attempts to impose the charge.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.