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Rep. Pompeo Sternly Questions Commerce Secretary on Obama’s Business Aviation Attacks

April 27, 2012

In an April 19 congressional hearing, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-4-KS) asked a top Obama Administration official to explain the president’s repeated denigration of business aviation, given the industry’s central role in the economic creation the president has often said he wants to promote.

Pompeo’s stern questioning came during a hearing by the House Energy & Commerce Committee where Commerce Department Secretary John Bryson testified about his agency’s efforts to revitalize America’s manufacturing sector as part of an economic turnaround.

Reminding Secretary Bryson that business aviation manufacture is “one of the last great manufacturing jewels in America,” Pompeo asked Bryson to explain Obama’s repeated vilification of the industry, noting that, despite the severe toll the economic recession has taken on the industry, it “has not asked for a dime, doesn’t want a grant, doesn’t want a loan... [it] would just like your supervisor, the President of the United States, to stop talking down this incredibly important industry.”

Referring to the consumers of business aircraft – thousands of companies across the country that rely on an airplane to compete and succeed – Pompeo asked: “Can you walk me through how he thinks the customers for these union workers, these engineers that live in the heartland of America – how talking down that industry has anything to do with job creation in America? It hurts the industry when he [the president] makes it politically incorrect to fly on a business tool.”

Bryson said he understood U.S. aviation well, in part because of his more than 18 years on the Boeing Aircraft Company board of directors, and offered that “the President has been very, very supportive of U.S. aviation.”

“He may be supportive of it,” Pompeo replied, “but the things he says when he speaks, and his notion that we should increase user fees and we should increase taxes on general aviation users, are inconsistent with your statement that he is supportive of that.

Pompeo concluded by calling upon Bryson to proactively support business aviation with the Administration. “Anything you can do to help make sure that folks want to use these as business tools – they’re very efficient, they’re a great product, and we make them here, in the United States of America.”

NBAA President and CEO welcomed Pompeo’s remarks. “We thank Congressman Pompeo for standing strong for business aviation,” Bolen said. “His eloquent remarks make it clear that he understands the industry’s importance to citizens, companies and communities not just in his congressional district, but all across the U.S.”

As the leader of the 47,000-employee Department of Commerce, Bryson serves as the voice of the business community in the president’s cabinet. Since his appointment six months ago, Bryson has focused on supporting advanced manufacturing, helping U.S. companies increase exports, and encouraging domestic companies to invest in or expand operations.