On Sept. 30, the very day that FAA funding was set to expire, President Bush signed the “Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2008,” which means the FAA has the money to continue operating until March 31, 2009.
“We’ve won the battle against user fees for now,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “This extension means that aviation fuel taxes remain at their current levels, and the FAA can’t charge any new fees for the length of this act.”
But that also means that the FAA funding issue starts anew when the new Congress convenes next year. Both the House and Senate will have to start drafting new legislation to determine how the FAA will be funded and what its budget will be.
“Regardless of whether Sen. McCain or Sen. Obama is elected president, we know that both are going to be looking for new revenue sources,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “And neither candidate has ruled out user fees for general aviation.” (You’ll be able to read more on the senators’ positions on aviation in the November issue of AOPA Pilot, which will be at your house by mid-October.)
But there will still likely be opposition to user fees in Congress, particularly in the House, “if our strong friends such as Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) aviation subcommittee chairman, and other great GA supporters on key committees are re-elected,” said Cebula. “That’s why your vote is so important Nov. 4, and we hope that you will give serious consideration to those candidates for the House and Senate who understand and support general aviation.”
Many of those candidate also will be profiled in the November AOPA Pilot.