Chicago airports legislation that will preserve Chicago's flagship GA airport Meigs Field has gained an unprecedented amount of support in the Senate. In a letter sent yesterday to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), 61 senators asked that the legislation, the National Aviation Capacity Expansion Act (S.2039), be brought to the Senate floor for a vote. "This show of bipartisan support in the Senate demonstrates the significance of this legislation," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Getting the legislation this far has been a lengthy process, but the Senate is now ready to debate the merits of the bill and proceed on behalf of Meigs Field and Chicago's other airports."
The bill's chief opponent is Senator Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.), who is concerned about the noise and environmental impact of an O'Hare expansion. Sen. Fitzgerald has threatened to filibuster any attempt to bring the legislation to the floor, but only 60 votes are required to override such an attempt. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the bill's author, says that he hopes this letter "will serve notice to the opponents of O'Hare that they must deal with this measure constructively rather than using a filibuster threat.... This substantial number of senators agrees with the majority of people in Illinois that making O'Hare safer and more efficient is essential. They understand the historic agreement between Governor Ryan and Mayor Daley also addresses our region's long-term aviation needs with a commitment to Peotone and Meigs."
Sen. Durbin says he expects a vote on the legislation to occur after the Memorial Day recess, which ends on June 2.