The U.S. Senate and House General Aviation Caucus have found new leadership for the 114th Congress. In the Senate, John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), both staunch supporters of general aviation and on the House side, the Caucus will have a mix of experienced and new leadership in Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) as they take on the role of bipartisan co-chairs.
General aviation groups were quick to greet and even praise the new leadership. “We are deeply pleased to see two senators who really understand the importance and value of general aviation stepping forward to lead the GA Caucus,” said Mark Baker, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). “The caucus plays an important role in sharing information about issues that affect the general aviation community, and that will be especially true as Congress takes up FAA reauthorization this year.”
Selena Shilad, Executive Director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America (shown at right), said that they are thrilled that Senators Boozman and Manchin have assumed these leadership positions in the General Aviation Caucus in the United States Senate. “Both Senator Boozman and Senator Manchin have been long-time leaders on issues related to aviation and general aviation in particular, and we look forward to working with them to protect this vital lifeline and industry in America,” said Shilad.
GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said in recognition of the selection of Congressman Veasey and Graves that they were delighted that the two will co-chair the Caucus. “Congressman Veasey—with his strong understanding of general aviation and manufacturing issues—will join Congressman Graves in this key leadership role in the 114th Congress.” Bunce said that Congressman Veasey spoke eloquently at GAMA’s General Aviation Jobs Rally in Dallas, Texas this past March about the significant economic and jobs impact of general aviation manufacturing on his district and the nation. “Congressmen Graves and Veasey will be a powerful team to lead the Caucus in the 114th Congress.”
The House GA Caucus will play an important role in educating members of Congress about general aviation issues during the 2015 Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization process. The Caucus begins the new Congress with 222 members.
Senator Boozman was a member of the GA Caucus during the last Congress. Manchin, who previously served as the Governor of West Virginia, is a longtime pilot and AOPA member. “Senator Boozman has been a strong advocate for the general aviation community, including introducing the third-class medical bill last year and working closely with manufacturers in Arkansas,” said Bunce. “Senator Manchin is an aviator who understands firsthand the opportunities and challenges faced by those in the general aviation sector. We look forward to continuing our close working relationship with them and supporting both senators in their new roles.”
During the 113th Congress, the Senate GA Caucus had 41 members. While eight of those did not return to the Senate this year, a number of GA supporters who previously served in the House have been elected to the Senate and could help bolster the Caucus.
Together, the House and Senate GA Caucuses counted 294 members during the last Congress.