The 109th Congress officially started business Wednesday, and that brings a new challenge to AOPA on Capitol Hill. That's because Republican leaders in the House created a new, permanent Committee on Homeland Security, which will have responsibility over the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as well.
"TSA previously was under the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, chaired by Rep. Don Young of Alaska," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of Government and Technical Affairs. "Chairman Young is a pilot from a state that depends on general aviation and a good friend of AOPA, so we had a sympathetic ear when we went to Congress with issues involving TSA.
"Our challenge now is to develop that kind of relationship with the key members and staff of this new committee."
It's not the only challenge facing AOPA's Washington, D.C., lobbying staff. User fees again loom large on the horizon.
While AOPA was successful once again in getting an act of Congress to prohibit user fees, that prohibition expires on September 30.
"As the airlines continue to face financial problems, they are seeking to cut their own taxes while pushing more costs and user fees on the backs of general aviation pilots," said Cebula.
"Some of the airlines will be making very sizable political contributions and lobbying hard for user fees," said Cebula. "We'll have our work cut out for us to counter that."
January 6, 2005