Would End Debate On Amendments To FAA Funding Bill
Don't expect meaningful progress on
the Senate's FAA funding bill until early next week. CNN reports
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has scheduled a May 6
procedural vote on the matter, effectively setting a deadline for
lawmakers to stop quibbling over which amendments should be added
to the bill.
As ANN reported Thursday,
debate on S.1300 came to a screeching halt this week, after
lawmakers clashed over an amendment setting stricter rules for
airline contributions to their employee pension funds. When debate
to end that loophole was dropped, attention turned to a slew of
unrelated riders lawmakers attempted to attach to the bill,
including a boost to highway spending.
Reid's cloture vote adds impetus for lawmakers to resolve their
differences... but there remains the possibility Republican
lawmakers could block the cloture vote, unless an agreement is
reached over what amendments could be considered for the bill.
"Republicans would like to continue debating this bill so that
it can be improved, but the majority locked it up and have taken a
my-way-or-the-highway approach," said Don Stewart, a spokesman for
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.)
So far, not a single amendment has been added to the FAA
reauthorization bill... as lawmakers failed to reach agreement over
which amendments should be voted on.
The Senate FAA reauthorization plan had been stalled in
committee since last September, until a compromise between Senators
Max Baucus (D-MT) and John Rockefeller (D-WV) -- chairmen of the
Senate Finance and Commerce Committees, respectively -- broke the logjam, and
permitted the bill to reach the Senate floor Monday. The House of
Representatives approved its version of the funding bill over seven
Lawmakers have criticized Reid, saying he's only allowing
amendments he favors to reach the floor. In addition to blocking
Republican-backed amendments, Reid's procedural maneuvering --
called "filling the tree" -- also blocked an amendment favored by
Baucus to restore earlier pension bill language for domestic
airlines, forcing them to fully fund benefits.
"Our deal was undone, and Reid backstopped that by filling the
tree," said one unnamed Senate Finance Committee staffer.