Some GA Stalwarts Swept Away in Election 2010

General aviation groups look to educate newly elected members of Congress.

Conservatives had plenty to cheer about at the close of Election Day 2010, as incumbents were swept away in a wave of dissatisfaction with the status quo in Washington. But for general aviation interest groups, the new class of congressmen represents a new class to be educated about our industry. And in the case of James Oberstar (D-Minn), who lost his seat to Republican challenger Chip Cravaack, there is genuine concern. Oberstar had chaired the House Transportation Committee since 2007 and opposed user fees for general aviation — a stance that put him in opposition with the airline industry. Cravaack is a former airline pilot.

Also, this year's purging has altered the Congressional General Aviation Caucus. Besides Oberstar, other members of the caucus not returning include Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), Mark Schauer (D-Mich.) and John Boccieri (D-Ohio).

Though there have been several attempts, long-term FAA funding has yet to find passage through Congress, and the bills proposed to date have not included user fees for aviation services. A series of short-term funding packages have kept the FAA afloat, but a new wave in Congress with largely unknown attitudes toward GA means a fresh round of lobbying for groups such as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).

NATA President Jim Coyne said, "NATA will continue to be actively engaged on long-term legislation to reauthorize the FAA, while continuing to educate members of Congress on important issues affecting our members." Meanwhile, AOPA congratulates several of its members who were elected last week, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, both elected to the Senate; and Steve Pearce of New Mexico, Charlie Bass of New Hampshire and Bill Flores of Texas; all elected to the House of Representatives.