Graves, Barrow to Co-Chair House GA Caucus
Congressman Sam Graves in his Stearman upon arriving at AirVenture Oshkosh.
Georgia Rep. John Barrow
November 18, 2010 — Congressman Sam Graves (R-Mo.), EAA 619761/Warbirds of America 554648, will become co-chairman of the House General Aviation Caucus when co-chairman and founder Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.), EAA 685118, retires at the end of the current congressional term, January 3, 2011. Ehlers and Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) formed the House GA Caucus in April 2009 and it has since grown to more than 130 members - about a third of the House plus 29 senators.
“Sam Graves, an outstanding pilot, who has a deep interest in these issues, who also serves on the Transportation Committee, has agreed to take over the aviation caucus in the House,” Ehlers said during an online interview segment at the AOPA Aviation Summit last week. The congressman announced his retirement in February 2010 after serving Michigan’s 3rd District (Grand Rapids area) for 16 years.
Graves said his goal was to continue informing fellow members about GA and its vital role in the U.S. economy. “It’s obviously a big job,” he said. “We’re going to spend the majority of our time educating other members of Congress on why GA is important, and just continue to make sure people understand general aviation and what GA means to our communities out there. We have some hurdles to cross.”
Stressing the importance of bipartisan GA support, Graves announced this week that Congressman John Barrow (D-Ga.) would serve as caucus co-chairman to replace Rep. Boyd, who was defeated in the recent mid-term elections. Barrow, re-elected to a fourth term as congressman from Georgia's 12th congressional district, is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
EAA welcomed the announcement and expressed its gratitude to Ehlers for his tireless work on behalf of general aviation. “Obviously we’re very pleased that Rep. Graves has been appointed to become co-chair of the caucus,” said Doug Macnair, vice president of government relations. “As an EAA and Warbirds member, homebuilder, pilot, and frequent visitor to AirVenture Oshkosh, he will be a tireless advocate on behalf of not only the aviation industry but for the rights of pilots and aviation enthusiasts.”
Macnair also expressed EAA’s unwavering gratitude to Ehlers for his efforts on behalf of general aviation and his leadership in forming the House GA Caucus. “When GA was so widely maligned in Congress in 2008 as being elitist and only for the rich, he very vocally stood up in defense of general aviation and the community of recreational aviation in committee hearings and to the media,” Macnair said. “All of general aviation should be grateful for the staunch support of Vern Ehlers and his passion for aviation.” Rep. Ehlers has also been an ardent opponent of user fees for general aviation.
Graves added, “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us - a lot of work to be done and a lot to be undone. We’re doing everything we can to make aviation that much more viable and make sure people understand how important it is.”
As for Ehlers, he plans to be busy in his retirement. “My dream is to build my own airplane and fly it!” he said. “It’s a great experience to build things, and it’s a greater experience to fly them.”