Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) will join Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) as co-chair of the House General Aviation Caucus in 2011.
Reps. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) and Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) formed the caucus in April 2009 to educate elected officials on Capitol Hill of the value of GA to the economy and national transportation system; they served as co-chairs as the caucus grew to 121 members but will not return for the 112th Congress in January. Ehlers announced that Graves would take over as the Republican co-chair during an interview with AOPA President Craig Fuller on AOPA Live Nov. 12 at AOPA Aviation Summit. Barrow succeeds Boyd as the Democratic co-chair.
“Congressmen Graves and Barrow have been steadfast supporters of general aviation throughout their time in Congress, and we’re happy to see them taking a leadership role in the House GA Caucus,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “The caucus made great strides under the leadership of Congressmen Ehlers and Boyd, and the new co-chairs are excellent choices to continue their work as Congress attempts to pass a long-term FAA funding bill.”
Ehlers is retiring at the end of his term, and Boyd did not win re-election.
Like Graves, Barrow is an AOPA member and has been a vocal opponent of user fee proposals in the past, saying that the focus should be on a plan to modernize the air transportation system and determine the costs associated with the project before discussing a new funding structure. Both new co-chairs signed a letter to President Barack Obama in late 2009 urging the president not to propose aviation user fees in his 2011 budget.
Barrow took a leadership role on the foreign repair station oversight issue contained in the FAA reauthorization bill. He circulated a letter to his colleagues urging the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leadership to support the Senate’s provision in the FAA bill as the best way forward in addressing reforms in the aviation maintenance industry and protecting jobs in the United States while still taking into account the nation’s international obligations. The letter was signed by 65 members of Congress.
“Congressman Barrow’s letter on the foreign repair station issue was signed by 33 Democrats and 32 Republicans, which is a testament to his desire to work with members of both parties on issues that could impact the general aviation community,” said AOPA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Lorraine Howerton.
Barrow also has defended general aviation against potentially harmful security regulations such as the Large Aircraft Security Program, and is committed to investing in small airports. He co-signed a letter to Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank in December 2009 expressing concern about a provision in the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act that would require automobile companies receiving federal assistance to divest of all of their private business aircraft. The letter was also signed by Ehlers and Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.). Barrow’s Congressional district includes Savannah, Ga., which is home to Gulfstream Aerospace.