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Texas senator key in FAA funding debate

Texas senator key in FAA funding debate

By AOPA ePublishing staff

AOPA President Phil Boyer advanced general aviation’s interests this week in an informal meeting with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, who will likely be the ranking member of the Senate aviation subcommittee.

“It was a very encouraging meeting and opportunity to renew our contacts with Sen. Hutchison,” said Boyer. “It was clear from her background and her previous votes that she clearly understands the importance of GA to Texas and the nation.”

In the meeting (attended also by AOPA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Christine Corcoran and National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen), Hutchison said that her husband was an AOPA member and used to fly her around the state. She expressed disappointment in the loss of GA airports, particularly in Austin, and pledged to continue working with AOPA to develop a new GA-friendly facility for the Austin area. She is also chairman of the board of the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Dallas Love Field. And Hutchison stood with general aviation during the aviation subcommittee debate on user fees. She voted for the Nelson-Sununu amendment, which would have removed user fees from S.1300.

Sen. Hutchison ranks fourth in the Senate Republican leadership. And according to her staff and various press reports, she is slated to become the ranking member of the Senate Commerce aviation subcommittee when Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-Miss.) resignation becomes effective later this month.

During their meeting, Boyer explained the importance of quickly passing an FAA funding bill. Resolving the problems of air travel congestion and delays requires not only funding the NextGen air traffic control modernization program, but also funding airport improvements and building additional runways, he noted.

While there is speculation that Congress may continue extending the existing funding legislation, “that status quo would hold up the Airport Improvement Program and effectively freeze any new contracts for infrastructure until the Senate passes, and the president signs, a new FAA funding bill,” said Boyer. (The House has already passed its version, H.R.2881.)

“We look forward to working with Sen. Hutchison on all of the issues facing general aviation in the next session of Congress,” said Boyer.

December 13, 2007

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