The general aviation community hopes to have new allies on the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee as two new pilots, including one AOPA member, join the group when the 114th Congress convenes in January. The committee and its Aviation Subcommittee will play a critical role in setting long-term spending priorities for the FAA during the 2015 Reauthorization process.
Among the 12 new committee members, announced by Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) on Dec. 10, is Rep. Todd Rokita (R-In), an active pilot and AOPA member. Rokita is an original co-sponsor of the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, which would reform third class medical certification, a member of the House GA Caucus, and one of general aviation’s staunchest allies in Congress. Also joining the committee is freshman Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), a lapsed pilot and past AOPA member.
They join House GA Caucus Co-Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.), who will be returning to the T&I Committee during the new Congress. Graves, who is an active pilot and AOPA member, is also an original co-sponsor of the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act.
Also returning to the committee are AOPA member Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), a GA Caucus member and early General Aviation Pilot Protection Act co-sponsor; and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), a GA Caucus member, General Aviation Pilot Protection Act co-sponsor, and former military helicopter pilot.
“We are excited to have so many pilots serving on the critically important Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. These are lawmakers who understand, use, and value general aviation,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Under the leadership of returning Chairman Bill Shuster and newly appointed Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), this committee will have the challenge of addressing critical aviation issues, including future funding priorities for the FAA and its programs, during the next Congress. We look forward to working with the full committee as well as the Aviation Subcommittee to ensure that the needs of general aviation are recognized and considered throughout the process.”
Although subcommittee assignments have not yet been made, leadership of the Aviation Subcommittee will not change, with Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) returning as chairman and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) returning as ranking member.
In addition to Rokita and Babin, the other new Republican T&I Committee members are Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia, and freshmen Reps. John Katko of New York, Cresent Hardy of Nevada, Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania, Garret Graves of Louisiana, Mimi Walters of California, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Carlos Curbelo of Florida, David Rouzer of North Carolina, and Lee Zeldin of New York.
The Democrats have not yet announced any new committee members.