Blakey Stumps For User-Fee Plan

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The FAA's new financing proposal may have gotten a cool reception in Congress last week, but that's not daunting FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, who is continuing to push for the plan's acceptance. Speaking before the Royal Aeronautical Society in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Blakey acknowledged that "a bit of a stick fight" greeted the release of her proposed legislation, but said she's convinced that it's on target and needs to get passed. "The people who have never paid a user fee still don't want to," she said. "If you think that a user fee is troublesome, try an air traffic system that's totally gridlocked. When that happens, the argument about who flies most or who pays what isn't going to matter." If Congress fails to enact the legislation by the Sept. 30 deadline "because we were arguing about who picks up the tab, everyone loses," Blakey added. "If you think that the first step is all this represents -- that we have time to burn, that our current system works just fine -- watch what happens when the taxes expire and the [aviation] trust fund dwindles."