AOPA and other members of the General Aviation Coalition sent a letter to every member of the Senate on Monday, urging support for the National Aviation Capacity Expansion Act. Senate bill S.2039, introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (R-Ill.), would make law the historic agreement between Illinois Governor George Ryan and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. That agreement would keep Meigs Field operating for another 25 years, expand O'Hare International, and create a new airport in Peotone, Illinois. [See also: Coalition letter.]
In Monday's letter, the General Aviation Coalition stated its strong support for the agreement, focusing on its importance to preserving Meigs Field. "We believe it is vital that the Governor and Mayor's agreement be embodied in federal legislation.... Chicago is a key transportation center, both as an originator of traffic and a connecting point for flights. There are national benefits to meeting capacity needs by keeping Meigs Field open, expanding O'Hare, and building a new airport at Peotone."
This Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a "markup" session to debate and vote on the bill. It faces stiff opposition from Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.), who is concerned about the noise and environmental impact of an O'Hare expansion. He is expected to offer several amendments to the bill.
AOPA Legislative Affairs continues to seek additional co-sponsors for the bill (an indication of how strong support for a bill is). It currently has 18.