Sides are emerging in the FAA funding debate, and many of those in high places, particularly in Congress, are siding with AOPA. Thanks in part to vocal pilots in North Dakota, both of the state's senators, Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad, have voiced their opposition to the FAA's plan. "I will not support that proposal," Sen. Dorgan wrote to an AOPA member regarding the FAA's proposal. Dorgan is a member of the Appropriations and Commerce, Science, and Transportation committees. "I did some flying myself years ago and I am acutely aware of the role general aviation plays.... To increase the rate of aviation fuel tax more than three times is something I intend to oppose aggressively. Frankly, I don't think there is a ghost of a chance that this proposal is going to be accepted by Congress. I have spoken with a number of my colleagues about it, and many of them feel the same way I do." Meanwhile, Sen. Conrad, who chairs the Budget Committee, wrote, "I agree that user fees for the general aviation community are not a fair method of financing the aviation trust fund. Please be assured I will keep your thoughts in mind as the Senate considers these issues." AOPA President Phil Boyer met with Sen. Conrad earlier this year, and he assured Boyer that he was not about to let the "camel's nose under the tent" when it comes to user fees. "It is clear that these senators' stances on the FAA funding proposal come largely from the feedback they have received from North Dakota pilots," Boyer said. "I just spoke to pilots at the University of North Dakota this past weekend, and several told me they had been working with both of the senators."
April 27, 2007