Congressional leaders are reaching out to AOPA for help on the general aviation relief bill. Leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee wrote AOPA President Phil Boyer this week, recognizing the critical role AOPA has played in the progress of the General Aviation Reparations Act of 2002 (H.R.3347) so far. But the bill is in jeopardy.
The letter, signed by Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), John Mica (R-Fla.), and Bill Lipinksi (D-Ill.), said general aviation is the "forgotten victim" of the terrorist attacks on the United States and that "thousands of hardworking men and woman have lost their jobs." It recognizes that "hundreds of 'Mom and Pop' shops have already closed their doors, and hundreds more are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy."
AOPA outlined a proposed bill on September 13. The original proposal would have aided small general aviation businesses (flight schools, independent FBOs, etc.) damaged by the shutdown of the nation's airspace after September 11, with direct grants and loan guarantees. It would have cost the government $450 million; over the period of time that has ensued, both the scope and cost grew to $5.5 billion.
The Bush administration, through Department of Transportation Secretary Mineta, recently called upon the House leadership to abort any attempts to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote. The House leadership has agreed to comply with the administration's request.
"I am deeply concerned with the situation we find ourselves in. If there is not some willingness among congressional leaders and the White House to get this bill moving, I believe any chance to provide relief for general aviation businesses could be doomed," Boyer said.