107th Congress — Second Session
Nov. 20, 2002—Senate passes security bill
Nov. 20, 2002—Modified stadium overflight bill passes Senate
Oct. 3, 2002—Sen. Inhofe "holds on" for GA
Oct. 2, 2002—Senators fight for GA relief
Sept. 19, 2002—AOPA continues battle against "Catch 22" stadium notam
Sept. 12, 2002—Blakey confirmed, starts as FAA head Monday
Senator Allard asks secretary of Interior to investigate Arboles closing
Sept. 12, 2002—This week, Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) asked Interior Secretary Gale Norton for the swift consideration of reopening of the Arboles Airstrip in Colorado's Navajo State Park. This is one of many backcountry airstrips closed because of arbitrary actions of managers who do not have jurisdiction over a landing strip. Allard, who has been working with AOPA Legislative Affairs, states in his letter that the airstrip is not in the park manager's jurisdiction to close but instead is owned by the federal Bureau of Reclamation. He adds that the Colorado State Assembly supports reopening the recreational airport, which has operated without incident since World War II.
The Arboles Airstrip, like many backcountry landing strips, faces an uncertain future. Navajo State Park and the airstrip straddle the Colorado/New Mexico state line, blurring jurisdiction and affirming the need for a federal law like the Backcountry Landing Strip Access Act (H.R. 1363/S. 681). If passed, the bill would nationally codify the process of airport closings and include local and state officials in those decisions. Currently the Backcountry Landing Strip Access Act is awaiting action by both chambers of Congress.
AOPA President Phil Boyer stated, "I appreciate Senator Allard asking Secretary Norton to look into possibly reopening this historic airstrip. We appreciate his recognition of the importance of these backcountry landing strips."
TSA chief says mobility is an "inalienable right"
Sept. 10, 2002—Appearing before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today, Admiral James M. Loy, director of the Transportation Security Administration, recommitted the agency to customer satisfaction and teamwork among all transportation stakeholders. AOPA Legislative Affairs staff were in the hearing room as Admiral Loy said his goal is to "restore mobility to all Americans...that is an inalienable right." He promised to continue to improve communication with Congress, private industry, agencies, and airports. Senator George Allen (R-Va.) renewed his inquiry regarding a plan to reopen Washington National Airport to general aviation. Loy candidly replied no date has been set nor is a plan agreed upon to reopen the Washington hub to GA. Loy offered to brief the senator privately on the progress of a plan to restore GA to National, rather than disclose sensitive information in the public hearing. Questions from senators about cargo screening, baggage and passenger screening, TSA hiring practices, and budget figures were the focus of senators attending the hearing today. TSA was complimented for its improvement in communication and cooperation with Congress in the five weeks since Loy's appointment to the agency's helm, though many members remain skeptical TSA will meet the screening deadlines set by last November's aviation security bill.
New FAA administrator could be confirmed this week
Sept. 9, 2002—AOPA Legislative Affairs' sources on Capitol Hill have confirmed that Marion Blakey, President Bush's nominee to head the FAA, could be confirmed this week. Blakey today is visiting with various senators in preparation for the next step in the nomination process, the executive session by the full Senate Commerce Committee. However, committee staff told AOPA that there are ways to expedite the proceedings. Senior staff on the Senate Commerce Committee told AOPA that the Senate is working to confirm Blakey as quickly as possible.
When asked about the rumored "holds" on Blakey's nomination, a Commerce Committee staffer said, "You never know for sure about the holds until you get down to the floor" of the Senate for the final vote.
The Senate aviation subcommittee held a nomination hearing on September 4 for Blakey. The committee has previously confirmed Blakey in her current position as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.
Aug. 15, 2002—Senate committee takes steps to modernize FSS system
Aug. 1, 2002—Senate recesses without holding Blakey hearings
Aug. 1, 2002—AOPA wins concession on homeland security
July 26, 2002—Key legislators say GA not a security threat
July 23, 2002—House passes Meigs bill
July 16, 2002—House procedural vote stymies Chicago airports bill
July 11, 2002—Meigs bill on the move
Senate passes supplemental appropriation without GA relief funding
Inhofe, Burns remain committed to relief for GA businesses
June 10, 2002—The Senate passed a Supplemental Appropriations bill early on Friday. Citing budgetary constraints, the Senate did not adopt two amendments to the bill that would have provided relief for general aviation small businesses. Supporters such as Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) pledged to continue the fight for compensation for GA small businesses that suffered tremendous financial losses because of the shutdown after the September 11 tragedy. AOPA Vice President for Legislative Affairs Julia Krauss noted, "We're committed to working with these senators, as well as the leaders in the House, to secure compensation for these small businesses that were shut down through no fault of their own."
The Senate version of the bill, S. 2551, provides emergency funds for the nation's wartime spending needs and has a price tag of $31.4 billion. The Bush administration claims the bill is too costly, as it exceeds its requested spending amount of $29.2 billion.
Senate Democratic Whip Harry Reid (Nev.) stated that White House concerns will be addressed when members of the Senate and House meet to resolve differences between the two proposed bills.
Pressure mounting to reopen three remaining Washington airports to GA
GA's imminent return to DCA a positive sign
May 8, 2002—At a Wednesday congressional hearing on reopening DCA to general aviation, Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.) pointedly asked FAA Associate Administrator for Air Traffic, Steve Brown, when College Park Airport, Potomac Airpark, and Hyde Field would reopen to transient traffic.
Brown told the subcommittee the FAA is in the midst of reviewing current security procedures and is looking at ways to modify access by sometime this summer. When Morella asked if the changes could be made before summer, Brown told her they would try.
"AOPA appreciates Representative Morella raising this important issue regarding GA access during the hearing," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "AOPA has been working to restore transient general aviation to these airports and recently sent a letter to Under Secretary John Magaw of the Transportation Security Administration, requesting that TSA take immediate steps to restore access."
General aviation relief bill in peril
Bush administration may prevent House action
Update: May 1, 2002—AOPA's Legislative Affairs staff has learned that the Bush administration is urging leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives not to allow a vote on the General Aviation Industry Reparations Act of 2001 (H.R. 3347). A letter from Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta to House Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) expresses concern with both the price and the scope of the bill. Congress expanded coverage beyond the original intended relief for small GA businesses, such as flights schools, increasing the cost of the package from $450 million to over $5 billion. AOPA President Phil Boyer remarked, "I am disappointed in the way the White House seems to be leaning; frankly the general aviation small businesses have at least the same claim to damages as the airlines." The bill's authors are currently attempting to negotiate a compromise with the administration. AOPA Legislative Affairs staff is working closely with White House and DOT officials, as well as Capitol Hill staff, in an effort to encourage the two sides to come together to work out an agreement on new language that would assist small businesses.
Apr. 17, 2002—Senate committee passes amended Meigs legislation
Meigs bill to be considered by Senate committee
Apr. 10, 2002—The Senate version of the National Aviation Capacity Expansion Act (S. 2039), introduced by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), will be debated and voted on by the Senate Commerce Committee next Thursday morning, AOPA has learned. The legislation would codify the agreement reached by Illinois Governor George Ryan and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley that will preserve Chicago's flagship GA airport Meigs Field for another 25 years, expand O'Hare International, and expedite the creation of a new airport at Peotone. The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on this legislation on March 21.
House Transportation and Budget committees negotiate on GA relief
Apr. 10, 2002—Fresh from their congressional spring break, key members on the House Transportation and Infrastructure and Budget committees are making progress in negotiations to bring a GA relief bill (H.R. 3347), introduced by House aviation subcommittee Chairman John Mica of Florida, to the floor for a vote. The General Aviation Industry Reparations Act of 2001 was reported out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on February 27, and the bill must now be approved by the full House of Representatives. AOPA Legislative Affairs staff is currently working with members on these committees to gain their support of the legislation. The bill would provide $2.5 billion in direct aid and $3 billion in loan guarantees to GA small businesses affected by the post 9/11 shutdown. For more on this legislation, see AOPA's issue brief.
Update: Mar. 28, 2002—AOPA takes issue with Markey report on nuclear security
Mar. 27, 2002—GA relief not forgotten by Congress
Mar. 21, 2002—Senate holds hearing on Chicago airports legislation
AOPA discusses warbird protections with key congressional leader
Mar. 21, 2002—AOPA Legislative Affairs staff met with Representative Gary Miller (R-Calif.) today to forestall any attempt to add anti-warbird legislation to this year's Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations bill. Last year, AOPA worked with Congress to strike language requiring demilitarization of significant military equipment, including aircraft formerly owned by the Department of Defense. That could have resulted in the destruction of vintage military aircraft, now flying in civilian hands.
Miller told AOPA he would do whatever it takes to make sure a similar provision is not included in this year's bill. He is sending a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today in which he will express his "serious concern regarding continued attempts to extend the federal government's demilitarization authority to lawfully possessed surplus military equipment." This follows up on numerous conversations Miller has had with Secretary Rumsfeld on this issue. Rumsfeld has repeatedly told Miller that he is aware of the problem and is working to correct it.
Mar. 20, 2002—INS commissioner tells Congress agency is being reformed
Influential U.S. senator urges FAA to approve AOPA photo ID petition
Common-sense approach to addressing the security needs
Mar. 13, 2002—Today in a letter to FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, Senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.) wrote in support of AOPA's petition to require pilots to carry government-issued photo identification as a supplement to the required pilot certificate. His endorsement of the AOPA petition is important considering he sponsored an amendment in the Aviation Security Act (PL107-71) expanding the scope of the airman registry to address terrorism. AOPA President Phil Boyer praised the senator, saying, "Senator Cleland clearly recognizes the value of this common-sense, low-cost, and easy to implement measure. We appreciate his leadership on this issue."
In the petition submitted to the FAA last month, AOPA asked FAA to issue a "direct final rule" that would require pilots to carry a valid, government-issued photo ID when in command of an aircraft. Under AOPA's proposal, a driver's license, passport, state ID card, or government agency photo ID would be acceptable. The proposal could go into effect within 30 days after FAA publishes the rule.
In December, AOPA and other industry groups recommended pilot photo IDs to FAA and the Transportation Security Administration. The request is currently pending at the FAA.
Mar. 12, 2002—AOPA member Sen. Inhofe introduces GA relief legislation
Mar. 6, 2002—AOPA testifies in support of Meigs Field
Feb. 28, 2002—House committee approves general aviation relief bill
GA relief bill to receive full committee vote
Lawmakers to debate the measure by month's end
Feb. 17, 2002—In several recent meetings with AOPA Legislative Affairs, House Aviation subcommittee staff indicated that the General Aviation Reparations Act of 2001 (H.R. 3347), sponsored by Chairman John Mica, is expected to receive a hearing by the full House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee by the end of the month. The bill, which overwhelmingly passed the subcommittee last December, would provide $2.5 billion in direct grants and $5 billion in guaranteed loans to those general aviation businesses adversely affected by the events of September 11.
The House aviation subcommittee staff also confirmed that Democrats on the committee are seeking to add a provision to the bill to help airline employees who have lost their jobs in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Negotiations are under way to craft language that will not dampen the strong support the bill has received to date by members from both parties. AOPA is working closely with supporters of the legislation to obtain passage.
AOPA queries Sen. Kohl's staff on "ticking time bomb" remark
Feb. 14, 2002—Wisconsin Senator Herbert Kohl, according to his staff, believes that while the general aviation community may be addressing the potential weaknesses in the system, the government is not. AOPA's Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula and AOPA's Vice President of Legislative Affairs Julia Krauss met with Senator Kohl's chief of staff Paul Bock and his transportation appropriations staffer Molly Harris to discuss Senator Kohl's comments during a hearing last week. Sen. Kohl called general aviation a "ticking time bomb" in a Senate Transportation Appropriations hearing. Despite the senator's provocative comments, his staff believes that the senator's subsequent questions on charter carriers more accurately illustrated his chief concerns.
In the meeting with Kohl's Washington staff, AOPA emphasized the association's efforts on GA security in concert with other members of the GA community. AOPA stressed that what works for commercial aviation will not work for GA. In response, Kohl's staff acknowledged that "one size does not fit all" and that what they hope to see is an "effective" approach to security, one that is both useful and implementable. AOPA Legislative Affairs plans to work with the senator 's office as the security debate progresses and will continue to advocate reasonable measures appropriate to general aviation.
Good news, bad news in proposed FAA budget
No user fees, but privatized ATC still on the table
Feb. 5, 2002—The administration's proposed budget for FAA is good news for general aviation in the short term, but there are storm clouds on the horizon.
The proposal asks Congress for $14 billion for FAA, approximately 1.6% less than 2002, based on Department of Transportation numbers. This cut results from some of FAA's security responsibilities being shifted to the new Transportation Security Administration that fall under DOT's jurisdiction.
However, the President's request does match the full funding for airport and airway improvements authorized in the most recent FAA reauthorization bill, the historic Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act, "AIR-21," (P.L.106-181). The law's funding provisions expire at the end of fiscal year 2003.
But buried within the budget proposal is a note that the administration will evaluate the effectiveness of FAA's yet-to-be formed air traffic control performance based organization (PBO). If it doesn't work as planned, the Department of Transportation will consider "partial privatization" or "franchising" parts of air traffic control.
"If aviation didn't have enough to be concerned about in the post 9/11 environment, it now seems that privatization is creeping back up through all of the security concerns," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
The highlights of the FAA budget were presented during a Department of Transportation press briefing February 4. During the question and answer session, AOPA Legislative Affairs staff asked the DOT's second in command Deputy Transportation Secretary Michael P. Jackson if the Administration intends to propose eliminating the restriction Congress has placed on the implementation of user fees for those who use the air traffic control system. Jackson simply responded, "No, no we do not."
After stating "the FAA must continue to increase its commitment to safe and efficient air travel," Deputy Secretary Jackson outlined the various highlights of the FAA budget that includes: $7.5 billion for FAA Operations to improve safety and efficiency, $2.88 billion for the FAA to continue to improve and modernize equipment central to the National Airspace System, $127 million for research, engineering and development, and $3.4 billion for planning and development of the nation's airports that includes grants for airport capacity projects.
The President's total budget request for all government agencies contains $746.5 billion in total discretionary spending, an increase of $59 billion over last year's $688 billion total. Broken down, that means $25 billion for non-defense homeland security, $366 billion for defense, and $355 for domestic programs. With much of the discretionary spending in Bush's budget going to defense and homeland security, enormous pressure will be placed on the funding for the FAA and other agencies. AOPA's top priority in the budget process will be to ensure that the FAA continues to receive the funding for airports and airway modernization when the budget goes to Congress.
The President's budget proposal, which is non binding, now moves to Capitol Hill where it will be debated over the next several weeks as the House and Senate budget and appropriations committees review their own spending priorities.
President's budget to focus on defense and homeland security, many federal agencies will be squeezed
Jan. 30, 2002—In his first State of the Union address, President Bush delivered his priorities for the FY 2003 budget: defense, homeland security, and economic security. These proposals will be formally presented in his budget that he submits to Congress on Feb. 4, marking the beginning of the annual budget process. For Homeland Security, which includes protecting our airports and airplanes, Bush is proposing $38 billion. Bush will also seek a $48 billion increase in new defense spending. With much of the discretionary spending in Bush's budget going to defense and homeland security, enormous pressure will be placed on the funding for the FAA and other agencies. "AOPA's top priority in the budget process is to ensure that the FAA continues to receive the funding for airports and airway modernization delivered by the historic AIR-21 legislation agreement of 2000," explained AOPA's Julia Krauss, vice president of Legislative Affairs.
Administrator Garvey Discusses Aviation Security
Jan. 22, 2002—In a speech before the Washington Aero Club today, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey discussed the state of aviation security after September 11th, touching on how this has affected general aviation. As AOPA reported on Friday, the FAA briefed airport owners and operators, along with AOPA and other industry representatives, on progress toward a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) that would permit operations at the three GA airports in the Washington, D.C. area that have been closed since September 11. "The FAA has been working out issues with the Secret Service, and our goal is to get those three airports open in the next couple of days," Garvey said today.
Garvey emphasized that September 11 was "a dividing line" for our country. "All of us can remember what we were doing that day. And all of us at the FAA will remember that aviation was silenced, the [flight] screen was completely blank, the afternoon of September 11. We are committed to keeping that screen full and active and to keep our citizens safe and secure."
Garvey also mentioned the newly formed Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which was created by the aviation security legislation (PL 107-71) signed into law last November. Garvey said that the new agency, which has taken over aviation security from the FAA, has three requirements so that it will be able to move quickly and address vulnerabilities in the system: the TSA must have top intelligence information; the TSA needs sustained, continued support from Congress and the Administration; and the TSA needs patience and understanding from the American people as new procedures are implemented. "There is always a learning curve," said Garvey. "[The system] will get better and it will be smoother."
Jan. 17, 2002—Rep. Hansen asks Ridge to revisit SLC TFR restrictions
AOPA Member Rep. Hansen Announces His Retirement
Jan. 11, 2002—House Resources Committee Chairman, AOPA member, and general aviation advocate James Hansen (R-Utah) announced earlier this week that he will not seek reelection when his term ends this year.
In heading the House committee that has jurisdiction over public lands and natural resources, Rep. Hansen has worked to prevent federal restrictions on public lands. During the first session of the current Congress (107th), Rep. Hansen worked with Rep. C.L. Butch Otter (R-Idaho) and AOPA in reintroducing the Backcountry Landing Strip Access Act (H.R. 1363), which would require a public process and state approval before an airstrip located on federal land could be temporarily or permanently closed. (Rep. Hansen first introduced the Backcountry Landing Strip Access Act, which he authored, in the 106th Congress).
Rep. Hansen, 69, has served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 22 years. In a statement on Tuesday, Rep. Hansen said, "I fully intend to give my all and not let up until the end of my term at the end of 2002."
In 1994 Rep. Hansen won the AOPA's Hartranft Award for Public Service in recognition of his efforts on behalf of general aviation product liability.
"Chairman Hansen has a long history of fighting for general aviation, both in Utah and nationwide," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "A GA pilot himself, Chairman Hansen's strong leadership in Congress has helped bring to the forefront general aviation issues that might otherwise be ignored. He will be sorely missed."
In photo: AOPA President Phil Boyer and Rep. Hansen.
Congress Tackles Aviation Issues in First Session; More Work to Be Done to Restore GA in Second Session
Dec. 31, 2002—Congress began the year with a newly elected President—whose election was steeped in controversy—an evenly split Senate and a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Then, in May, Republican Senator James Jeffords of Vermont announced that he was becoming an Independent, thus switching control of the Senate from Republicans to Democrats. Despite these unprecedented political parameters, it was the terrorist attacks of September 11 that had the largest impact on this congressional session's agenda. After the attacks, citizens looked to Congress to restore security and to provide economic relief. AOPA was involved in key initiatives affecting members ranging from aviation security, FAA funding (including funding priorities), to general aviation small business relief.
After the congressional recess ends in late January, the highest priorities for AOPA Legislative Affairs will be to work with Congress for passage of a GA relief package, to see the Chicago airports bill preserving Meigs Field signed into law, to continue working on comprehensive airport land use legislation, advancing AOPA's priorities in FAA spending, as well as beginning work on the new FAA Reauthorization Act. The current act, AIR-21, will authorize funding for federal aviation programs through 2003 to the sum of $40 billion.
Key issues AOPA Legislative Affairs worked on during 2001:
- Aviation Security. Aviation security legislation (PL 107-71) was among the anti-terrorism bills Congress passed. AOPA Legislative Affairs staff worked with the House and Senate aviation security conferees on many provisions affecting GA, including a compromise to a harmful amendment requiring prescriptive security measures for general aviation aircraft sponsored by Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.). The provision was included in the Senate version of the legislation, but this onerous GA requirement was ultimately removed in the final version of the legislation. [See AOPA's issue brief.]
- GA Relief. After the terrorist attacks, Congress was quick to provide a bailout bill for the airline industry (PL 107-42), and AOPA has lobbied and helped draft legislation for a similar financial package for GA businesses that have suffered as a result of the attacks. While there were five individual bills that would offer some form of relief to these businesses, none of the bills were voted on by either of the chambers before Congress recessed for the holidays. AOPA will continue to work with the bills' sponsors when Congress reconvenes January 23. [See AOPA's issue brief.]
- Appropriations. Congress passed all of the 13 spending bills for FY 2002. Those of particular interest to AOPA included the following issue:
- Upgrades to the Aviation System for General Aviation. AOPA worked with conferees on the Transportation Appropriations bill (PL 107-87)—the bill that provides funding for the FAA—to include a number of GA-related provisions, such as requiring that FAA disseminate the database of airport diagrams to manufacturers at no cost as a first step in reducing runway incursions and enhancing aviation safety; an increase in funding for research on general aviation unleaded fuels; and modernization of the notams platform. [See AOPA's issue brief.]
- Chicago Airports Legislation. Another appropriations bill that AOPA was closely engaged with was the Defense Appropriations bill. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) attempted to include the historic agreement between Illinois Governor George Ryan and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley that preserves Meigs, expands O'Hare International, and creates a new airport at Peotone, into the defense spending bill, but was unsuccessful. However, both Senator Durbin and Representative William Lipinski (D-Ill.) introduced "stand-alone" legislation (S. 1786/H.R. 3479), the National Aviation Capacity Expansion Act, which would legislate the historic agreement. AOPA will work with the bill's sponsors to pass this legislation next session.
- Peru Shootdown Provision. AOPA also monitored the Foreign Operations spending bill (H.R. 2506), in which the final version includes an AOPA-backed provision that withholds funds to support a Peruvian air interdiction program until the Bush administration sets up safeguards to protect civilian aircraft. This provision was added to the House version of the spending bill by Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) after the fatal shoot down of a civilian aircraft carrying U.S. missionaries on April 20. [See AOPA's issue brief.]
- Aerial Fish Spotters. AOPA put its support behind the prevention of any further legislation prohibiting the Department of Commerce from issuing licenses for aerial fish spotters to operate. A provision to prohibit use of aircraft in Atlantic bluefin tuna fishing was added behind closed doors to last year's version of the Commerce-Justice-State (C-J-S) appropriations bill, but it was not included in the final version of the bill for FY 02 (PL 107-77). AOPA, along with some environmental and conservation groups, believes that spotter aircraft play a crucial environmental role by directing fisherman away from undersized tuna.
- Warbird Provision. AOPA also worked with House-Senate conferees on the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1438), in particular Chairman Bob Stump of the House Armed Services Committee (R-Ariz.), Senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.), and AOPA member Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), to remove the "warbird provision" in the final version of the legislation. This provision could have resulted in the destruction of vintage military aircraft.
- Backcountry Airstrips. This year, once again, AOPA fought to prevent the closure of more backcountry airstrips, and in this congressional session the Bush administration committed itself to implementing a national policy governing general aviation issues related to Federal land. Facing the possibility that an AOPA-supported prohibition against the closure of backcountry airstrips would be extended by Congress until October 2002, an agreement was reached between Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and the departments of Agriculture and Interior to develop a national policy governing backcountry airstrips on federal lands. The Administration stated there will now be a process that will include periods of public notice, comment, and participation by the states. Senator Crapo has stated that he hopes that Congress ultimately will be able to pass such legislation on a permanent basis, and AOPA will continue to work with Senator Crapo and other members of Congress so this goal is realized. Both Senator Crapo and Representative C.L. Butch Otter (R-Idaho) introduced reintroduced the Backcountry Landing Strip Access Act this year (S. 681/H.R. 1363), but no action was taken on the bills since the administration made this agreement.
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