Ethics Reform Bill Could Snag Flying Legislators

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The newly installed House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., got to work last week, eager to approve a new ethics package during their first hours on the job. But EAA says their proposed law includes a provision that could prevent pilots who serve in Congress from flying their own aircraft. Intended to curb lawmakers from accepting free rides in corporate jets, the language reflects a lack of understanding about how aviation works -- a lack that's all too familiar to most aviators. According to EAA, the ethics legislation states that members of Congress "may not use personal funds, official funds or campaign funds for a flight on a non-government airplane that is not licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate for compensation or hire." But the FAA licenses carriers, not airplanes. The wording would virtually ban travel on any private aircraft. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., and others who use their own airplanes to travel within their districts want the language fixed, EAA said. Graves flew his 1943 Boeing/Hughes PT-13D Super Stearman biplane to EAA AirVenture last summer and is also an airplane homebuilder. "Many members of Congress, particularly in rural or large areas, rely on airplanes as a primary means of transportation to travel within their districts," he said. "Taking away a member's ability to travel by plane limits their ability to serve their constituents."