On the eve of President Obama submitting his Fiscal Year 2014 budget to Congress, a record 223 lawmakers voiced their continued opposition to increases in user fees for commercial and general aviation. A $100 per flight fee has been included in President Obama's previous two budgets yet soundly rejected by Congress each time. House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) and Ranking Member Rick Larsen (WA-02) along with Representatives Sam Graves (MO-06) and John Barrow (GA-12), who co-chair the House General Aviation Caucus, led the letter as a preemptive measure to the likely proposed increase.
"The Obama Administration's repeated attempts to raise taxes and fees despite an unsteady economy and Congressional opposition continue to boggle the mind. Increasing user fees to $100 per flight would not only hamstring commercial and general aviation operations, but would ultimately discourage consumers. Previously rejected twice, opposition to raising aviation user fees is only growing in Congress. The Administration should take the hint and permanently ground this idea," said House Aviation Chairman LoBiondo.
"General aviation is the engine of the aerospace economy, developing new technology, new pilots, and a lifeline for many rural communities. Members of both parties agree that we should be encouraging people to fly, not adding disincentives. The Bush administration was wrong about this proposal, and so is this administration," said House Aviation Ranking Member Larsen.
"New fees and taxes always put up a caution flag, particularly in a difficult economy and particularly when they would hurt a critical segment of our economy. The fact of the matter is, general aviation carries 166 million passengers to around 5,000 communities over 27 million flight hours each year. More than two-thirds of these flights are for business purposes. General aviation's operations and manufacturing provides jobs for about 1.2 million people while putting $150 billion in our economy. This proposed fee would harm an industry that is already feeling the effects of a sluggish economy. It's something we've fought tooth and nail in the past, and it's something we'll continue to vigorously oppose in the House with even stronger numbers this year," said Representative Graves.
"Georgia is home to a booming aviation industry, including in our smaller towns and communities."The General Aviation Caucus is one of the largest, bipartisan coalitions in the House, and we stand united in opposing the imposition of user fees on the aviation community. We're in a time of economic recovery, and additional taxes and fees will severely undermine the millions of jobs aviation brings to our economy," said Representative Barrow.
The full text of the lawmakers' letter to President Obama is as follows:
Dear President Obama:
We are writing to express our strong opposition to your continued support of a $100 per flight fee on commercial and general aviation.
Aviation user fees have been proposed in your last two budgets and Congress rejected them. Aviation user fees have been proposed by different Administrations, both Republican and Democrat and again, Congress has repeatedly and overwhelmingly rejected them.
Commercial and general aviation, including aviation manufacturing, are vital industries in our nation, providing millions of jobs and making important contributions to our economy. We should work together to support policies that encourage job growth and strengthen U.S. economic activity. Imposing a $100 per flight fee on commercial and general aviation is the wrong approach, and we respectfully request that you abandon this idea once and for all.
We appreciate your consideration of our strong concerns.