In Congress, A Move Against User Fees

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U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., and Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., senior members of the House Transportation Committee, are circulating a letter among fellow lawmakers asking them to join their effort to persuade President Barack Obama to avoid general aviation user fees in the next federal budget. Costello said he favors maintaining the current mechanism of using fuel taxes to support the Aviation Trust Fund. "We want to reiterate that a user-fee proposal would be a step backward," said Costello. "This is an issue that we have had bipartisan agreement on in recent years and there is no reason to reconsider it. I will not support a budget or an FAA Reauthorization bill that includes user fees."

A similar campaign in 2009 received strong bipartisan backing, according to AOPA, with 118 House members signing on to that letter against user fees. "Once again, Congressmen Petri and Costello have taken the lead against imposing user fees on general aviation," said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA's vice president of legislative affairs. "The last bipartisan letter spoke volumes and we applaud the congressmen for circulating a letter in the new Congress, and we will urge other members to sign the letter to the president opposing user fees." NBAA President Ed Bolen also applauded the effort: "Representative Costello has always been an effective champion for general aviation, and we thank him for taking this action early in the year to send a clear and strong message of opposition to user fees for the industry," he said in a news release. He added that user fees would require a large bureaucracy to manage, and would impose a burden on the many small and mid-size businesses that rely on an airplane to succeed.