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User-Fee Elimination Amendment Gains Bipartisan Support

Measure Just Misses In Initial Vote

May 17, 2007 —The elimination of general aviation user fees is gaining momentum, as an early amendment in the U.S. Senate that would eliminate user-fee provisions from the new FAA funding and reauthorization bill barely missed passage on Wednesday.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Senator John Sununu (R-NH) sponsored the amendment to the Senate Commerce Committee, which would eliminate the $25 "modernization surcharge" on turbine aircraft for filing IFR flight plans that was included in the Lott-Rockefeller bill (S. 1300) earlier this month. The amendment failed by a single vote, but will likely return for consideration as the Senate bill progresses.

The Lott-Rockefeller bill had already excluded user fees and a 300 percent increase in fuel taxes for GA piston aircraft. It still included the user fee mechanism for turbines, however, along with more than doubling the jet fuel tax. It now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

"We are encouraged by the developments in the Senate," said Doug Macnair, EAA Vice President of Government Affairs. "The voices of EAA members are making a difference in this debate. Bipartisan efforts such as the Nelson-Sununu amendment shows that a growing number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle understand both the short- and long-term negative effect on general aviation once the user-fee door is opened."

Just this week, EAA President Tom Poberezny wrote a letter to committee members asking to support the Nelson-Sununu amendment. The primary focus of EAA's ongoing advocacy efforts has been to strongly oppose the user fees and sharp fuel tax increases proposed in the administration's FAA reauthorization bill this past February. Those efforts, along with those of other general aviation associations, led to broad, bipartisan opposition in the House of Representatives, where the FAA proposal was pronounced dead on arrival.

"EAA maintains that the national airspace system and specifically the air traffic control system should continue to be financed through a combination of excise taxes and general treasury funds," Poberezny added. "EAA favors modernizing the air traffic control system but firmly believes that this can be done through the existing, long-standing system of tax-based financing."

EAA continues to work with Senate and House members to create a workable agreement on FAA reauthorization. We urge our members to contact their elected congressional representatives to let them know the direct impact user fees would have on them, their families, businesses, and communities. For more information, visit www.eaa.org/govt/index.html.

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