When three Republican members of the House of Representatives introduced a 21st extension of FAA programs and funding containing a policy provision that cuts Essential Air Service (EAS) passenger subsidies to 13 airports, it set off a firestorm in Congress and inside the Beltway. Probably passengers who use the affected airports were not too happy either.
United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
When 91-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) relinquished his chairmanship of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee late last year, the domino effect thrust Sen. John Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) into the chairmanship of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
General aviation groups pled-ged to work with the Obama Administration when it takes the reins of the federal government early next year, but in the days following the election there was much speculation about how things would shake out on Capitol Hill, in the Transportation Department and in the FAA.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), ranking Republican on the Senate aviation subcommittee, has also become the ranking minority member of the full Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation following the July 29 indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) on corruption charges.
With the Republicans retaking control of the Senate when the 108th Congress convenes early next month, some recognizable names will be moving back into the leadership positions they were forced to vacate when former GOP Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont became an independent and allied with the Democrats in the middle of last year.
When Congress perceives public or political demands to do something, the House and Senate can act with uncharacteristic speed. For example, take the legislation that would curb and curtail corporate conniving and chicanery that raced through legislative processes, was passed by both houses and handed for signature by President Bush in near record time. If only some desirable aviation bills had the same priority.
With movement toward a long-term FAA reauthorization bill at a standstill, entities as diverse as the Portland Cement Association, the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined with aviation interests last month in urging the Senate into action.
In the upheaval over the remarks by ex-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who learned to fly as a teenager, was named as his replacement.
Although Lott (R-Miss.) resigned his post as leader, he remains in the Senate and has muscled his way into the chairmanship of the Senate aviation subcommittee, displacing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who was thought to be in line for the position.
After Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) announced November 26 that he would leave the Senate at the end 2007, it didn’t take long to fill his post as the ranking Republican member of the Senate aviation subcommittee. With- in days, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) was named to replace him.
• With many eyes focused on the Presidential election date, both houses of Congress worked diligently on such agenda items as tax cuts, disaster relief, counter-terrorism measures and so on so that they could recess on or about October 8 for legislators to hit the campaign trails. How Congressional elections go will affect Senate and House party majorities and, therefore, who will chair various committees.