GOP House Victory Costs General Aviation Some Allies
With the Republican victories on Tuesday, several prominent backers of general aviation have moved on. The highest-profile loss for aviation as a whole was Rep. James Oberstar (D-Wis.), the chairman of the powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The 36-year legislator is considered by many as the most knowledgeable lawmaker in Congress on aviation issues. He began advocating satellite navigation many years ago and was always steadfast in opposing user fees for general aviation. The National Air Transportation Association said it will miss the support of Oberstar and Reps. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), who is retiring; Allen Boyd (D-Fla.); Mark Schauer (D-Mich.); and John Boccieri (D-Ohio), “all of whom have been ardent supporters of the general aviation industry and fought for issues important to NATA members.” Oberstar–who was the primary backer of a provision in the pending FAA reauthorization bill involving a labor dispute between UPS and FedEx, one of the reasons that the House has been unable to pass FAA reauthorization this session–said he was swept away by “a national wave” of anger over federal bailouts, stimulus spending and healthcare reform, all of which he supported.