AIN Blog: Congress Once Again Says ‘No’ to User Fees

 - March 2, 2012, 2:42 PM
Rep. Jerry Costello
Rep. Jerry Costello is among the lawmakers urging President Obama to abandon his plan for per-flight fees.

The leaders of the House aviation subcommittee have sent a letter to President Obama opposing his inclusion of a $100 aviation user fee in his Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal. It was signed by 195 members of the full House of Representatives.

While we’d like to think the current and future White House budget directors will finally get the message, don’t bet your farm on it. It’s often said that bad ideas never die in Washington.

“This letter is another clear example that user fees are a non-starter on Congress,” said Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), ranking Democrat on the House aviation subcommittee. “Particularly given that the FAA reauthorization has been signed into law, there is no need to continue to discuss this bad idea.”

Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.), chairman of the panel, declared, “Almost half of the House members signed, and we would have no trouble getting a majority if this proposal were ever to be advanced to the full House—which it won’t.”

In the letter, the signers wrote, “Aviation user fees have been proposed several times by different Administrations, both Republican and Democrat. Congress has repeatedly and overwhelmingly rejected them.”

<p”>President Obama proposed a $100-per-flight fee on commercial and general aviation operators of turbine aircraft in his FY2013 budget, which was released last month.

But Petri and Costello, along with Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.), co-chairmen of the House General Aviation Caucus, said in a “Dear Colleague” letter that the fee “would have a devastating impact on commercial and general aviation, as well as the aviation manufacturing industry.”

In their letter to Obama, which was supported by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and its member companies, the lawmakers pointed out that commercial and general aviation, including aviation manufacturing, are vital industries in the nation, providing millions of jobs and making important contributions to the economy.

“We are grateful for the leadership provided by the House aviation subcommittee and the House General Aviation Caucus,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce. “They have been key in uniting Congress against this ill-conceived proposal. User fees raise safety concerns, place undue burdens on the general aviation industry, and require the creation of a costly new federal collection bureaucracy.”

The lawmakers also urged the President, “We should work together to support policies that encourage job growth and strengthen U.S. economic activity. Imposing a $100-per-flight fee on commercial and general aviation is the wrong approach, and we respectfully request that you abandon this idea once and for all.”

Like we said, don’t count on it. The people in the green eyeshades are lurking.