The results of the 2018 election mean aviation advocates will see a number of new faces leading key committees in the U.S. House of Representatives. When Democrats take control in January, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) will become chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) will serve alongside him as ranking member.
Succeeding Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) as chairman, DeFazio is an experienced choice to lead the committee, having served as a member since 1987, when he first entered Congress. DeFazio is widely viewed as a transportation policy expert. As chairman, he said his main focus will be on the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure, and his hope is to pass a comprehensive infrastructure package including road, bridge, and transit improvements in the first six months.
Graves’ campaign to become the leading Republican of the T&I Committee paid off as he was unanimously elected by the GOP on Nov. 30. A pilot and longtime ally of GA, Graves has served on the T&I Committee for his entire 18 years in Congress. He has amassed a great deal of policy expertise over the years and is viewed as a strong and deft negotiator.
“I am honored to be chosen by my colleagues to lead this important Committee at such a critical time for our nation’s infrastructure,” said Graves. “Infrastructure seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s to-do-list and I believe my experience as a professional pilot and legislator coupled with my policy depth and conservative values will serve the conference well as we begin discussions on an infrastructure bill.”
Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs and advocacy, said the association is looking forward to working with these seasoned leaders on issues that unite the aviation industry. “We are optimistic about a bipartisan approach to addressing important issues including efforts to improve our nation’s infrastructure and expanding our efforts to grow the pilot population in the United States. We are very fortunate that these leaders understand the issues facing the aviation community today.”