Congress returns to busy schedule

After its August vacation, Congress returns to Capitol Hill Sept. 9 with a full plate of issues, some of which will directly affect general aviation. As usual in Washington, money is on top of the plate.

Sequestration appears again; the U.S. must raise its debt limit — again — to keep borrowing money; and that proposed $100 per flight user fee for some flights in the busiest airspace hasn’t gone away.

Sequestration has already forced billions in cuts from the 2013 budget. It will also have its effect on the 2014 budget.

Establishing that budget will require passing a dozen bills by both the House and Senate, then reconciling them, then passing the reconciled bills, and then having the President sign them. This is a massive chore to be completed in a short time with such diverse opinions on where, why, and how to spend the public’s money.

Congress will have to act to increase the debt limit to prevent a total government shutdown. After some wrangling, the limit is expected to be raised, but pressure will be put on to seek savings and revenue sources.

In the total scheme of things, the President’s proposal for a $100-per-flight fee for some flights in the busiest airspace might seem like a possible compromise item to move the fiscal process ahead.

As it stands now, all piston-powered airplanes and recreational flights would be exempt from the fee, which would assess $100 for each flight for corporate jets and airline flights.

The alphabet groups and people looking out for the interests of general aviation certainly have a busy time ahead.


  1. Tom says

    You can be sure that any user fees will be in addition to current taxes, and that the fees will never be enough to cover the massive overhead such a system would require. We’re better off with excise taxes on fuel.

  2. Kimberly Bush says

    So many clichés come to mind right now: “once my foot is in your door, you can’t shut and lock it” “why lock the barn when the horse has already been stolen” and more. In my opinion, the risk is very real that a precedent is being set by charging even the commercial operations with a user fee. As a commercial traveler, I resent Congress, the FAA, or Mom’s Hot Dog stand from charging an additional fee for parking an airplane on their property, when (as I understand it) that concrete was laid from funding already paid by aviation on every level.
    However, I also understand the need for upgrades and pot hole fixes on concrete surfaces. Locally, tie-down fees are waived by a fuel purchase. This is akin to ground transport being charged out of state fuel taxes as a use tax.
    Is a compromise of some sort possible? A set fee that is assessed pro rata and is defined for a set period? All agree that we have maintenance that needs to be done. The remaining question seems to be who reaps the benefit of a well-maintained air transportation system?
    I would submit that we ALL benefit.

  3. Bryan says

    The “Alphabets” are actively testifying and working to privatize as much government infrastructure as they can. They are not upfront with their membership about these efforts because these efforts will result in user fees; just as they have in every country in the world that has privatized, or begun to operate it’s ATC as a “non-profit”.

    The best interest of GA and the agenda of “our” aviation organizations has diverged significantly.

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