January 2, 2013 - While Congress reached a last-minute tax deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" on Tuesday, its decision to move consideration of major budget cuts until the end of February presents potential threats to GA.
As reported on EAA.org earlier this week, mandatory budget cuts at the FAA could cause delays in services such as aircraft certification, Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) approval, and other administrative activities. It would also likely delay advancements in projects such as NextGen. It's not known at this time whether budget cutbacks would affect medical certification operations, such as approval of special issuances. The mandatory budget cuts were established by Congress as a "poison pill" to force budget deliberations that call for a 15-percent reduction across the federal government, with some exceptions.
Essential services, such as air traffic control and aviation safety operations, would continue without any impact, according to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. The delayed consideration of budget cuts, however, does create the potential for GA to be swept into a variety of omnibus spending and budget-cut measures that would not be reviewed separately, which might include user fees and other taxation strategies.
"Congress could wrap many agency budgets into one large omnibus appropriations bill, which would be sent directly to the House and Senate floors for a vote without the committee consideration that helps prevent inclusion of elements that are detrimental to general aviation," said Doug Macnair, EAA's vice president of government relations. "EAA and other aviation groups will continue to monitor the budget situation closely and work with our allies on the Hill to minimize any adverse impact on GA, both immediately and in the long term."