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Lawmakers and industry groups are working to reverse a downward trend in one of the few manufacturing segments that the United States still dominates: general aviation.

“You have a very low demand side for general aviation aircraft generally,” Rep. Mike Pompeo  (R-Kan.) said. “We’re absolutely losing out to competitors from across the globe.”

The congressman has worked with the FAA to write legislation to speed the certification process for new general aviation aircraft, which encompasses any planes not used for commercial air travel. More than 20 cosponsors, including the progressive Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) and conservative Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), have joined Pompeo’s effort to direct the FAA to decrease certification costs and make safety tests less onerous.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told POLITICO she plans to introduce a companion Senate bill in the coming days that could benefit Cirrus, an aircraft builder in Duluth, Minn., and help “make sure they keep strong.”

Pompeo expects the House Transportation Committee to approve his bill this summer.

Eliminating the tax break on planes — which the White House usually describes as “corporate jets” — would raise approx. $3 billion over 10 years. Obama first introduced the tax proposal in 2011 and has frequently used it to portray Republicans as favoring wealthy jet owners over ordinary taxpayers. Airplane builders say their orders suffer when Washington singles them out.

Obama’s budget proposal for a $100 per-flight fee for all aircraft would disproportionately whack the small planes used by executives and business owners.

Pompeo said his constituents have told him that Obama’s comments on general aviation are more harmful to customers and plane builders than the proposals themselves. Indeed, members of Congress from both parties, as well as general aviation groups, say they are open to talking about the depreciation tax break as part of broad tax reform, but they dislike Obama singling them out.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) said he is confident Capitol Hill will never go for either the per-flight fee or the tax break individually — those would come only during broad reform.

Posted in: Washington News
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