Graves Fights For ATC Privatization
One of the most influential members of the so-called GA Caucus in Congress recently announced his support for privatization of air traffic control as a vote looms next week on the bill that would hand it over to a nonprofit corporation. Rep. Sam Graves voted against privatization last year but, according to The Hill, Graves switched horses after he spent the year convincing the architect of the bill, House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Penn., to exempt GA from user fees in the bill. “We’ve got a lot of folks that are operating off of last year’s bill, which is a completely different bill. We want to get information out there,” Graves told reporters as he joined other GOP members in whipping votes for the bill. He faced a tough crowd at his annual Wing Nuts Flying Circus and Fly-In at his home airport of Tarkio, Missouri, July 8.
The hometown fly-in attracts the leaders of all aviation groups who can rub elbows with influential members of Congress. Graves took the stage to explain his rationale for supporting the current bill to turn air traffic control over to a nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors representing aviation and government interests. The aviation groups were having none of it, according to AOPA. “I do a lot of town halls, and I’ve not heard yet from one aviator or aircraft owner who believes a privatized system would be better than the one we have today,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. EAA Chairman Jack Pelton said privatization is a misnomer for this bill. “If you’re a free market capitalist, it (H.R. 2997) violates every principle of free market capitalism, because you’re handing a public interest over to monopoly,” AOPA quoted Pelton as saying.