For the first time ever, the U.S. Senate is being led by two AOPA members—new Senate majority leader Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and minority leader Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.). This is particularly important in the 108th Congress as it takes up the comprehensive aviation funding legislation known as FAA reauthorization.
"Now more than ever it is critical for pilots to have representation in Congress, and we're pleased to have two of our own so highly placed," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. Sen. Daschle has twice been awarded AOPA's Hartranft Award, most recently in 1993 for his courage in helping AOPA defeat new aircraft registration fees.
Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), another winner of the Hartranft Award for his efforts to secure the passage of the historic AIR-21 legislation, takes over as the Senate aviation subcommittee chair, placing another friend of aviation in a key role.
The first challenge that Congress faces, however, is passing the spending bills for fiscal year 2003. This legislation is important for pilots because it funds initiatives such as graphical advisories of temporary flight restrictions, improvements in the notam system, updated flight service stations, and additional GPS approaches to make airports more accessible.