Newspaper article Roll Call

Friday Q & A: Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., Part Two

Newspaper article Roll Call

Friday Q & A: Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., Part Two

Article excerpt

Here's the second half of our interview with Rep. Rick Larsen, D- Wash., who is the senior Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure aviation subcommittee.

You said at Tuesday's hearing on FAA reauthorization, "If we're going to 'go big' in this bill... we must do so methodically, with a clear statement of the problem we are trying to solve." So what is the problem you're trying to solve?

The problem the aviation subcommittee will try to solve is not one problem. For NATCA it's funding stability. For Airlines for America, representing the airlines, it's the full implementation of NextGen so that they can start seeing the benefits to them. Those are two very different problems but some are suggesting that by doing a broader air traffic control reform Congress can solve these individual problems. I'm not certain about that.

And based on the hearing that we had, I continue to conclude that there's no consensus among stakeholders on a broader air traffic control reform, because they did not all come up with the same answer to how you fix these problems.

As far as FAA funding certainty, having those of us who fly pay a dedicated user fee, as part of the cost of the airplane ticket, would be one way to provide that.

You're already paying right now in the form of a passenger facility charge to help with funding for airports.

With regard to the use of the national airspace, yes, the people who fly benefit from that.

But I think we need to look at the national airspace like the national highway system in that everybody benefits from having it.

So it does make sense to have some general Treasury funding as part of that funding picture for the national airspace.

I do not see how we move to a user fee system in the United States because of the resistance from some groups.

And the idea that we have to move to a user fee system says that Congress is failing at funding aviation in this country. …

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