May 23, 2011 By: Pete Kasperowicz
House Democrats on Monday warned that passage of a long-term Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is in serious jeopardy this year because Republicans are insisting on a bill that cuts billions in FAA funding and includes language making it harder to form air and rail unions.
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) issued this warning on the House floor in a brief debate over legislation to temporarily extend the FAA until June 30. That bill, H.R. 1893, passed the House by voice vote Monday afternoon and should be approved by the Senate this week.
But while Costello said the additional time could be used to finish negotiations between the House and Senate, he indicated that Republicans have so far not backed away from funding cuts and tough labor language.
“For several weeks we have worked with the Senate to resolve a number of differences between the two bills,” Costello said. “However, the most controversial aspects of the House FAA reauthorization bill — the arbitrary $4 billion funding cuts that will have a negative impact on aviation safety and our economy, and a provision that repeals a federal rule on fair labor elections and mounts an assault on collective bargaining rights — have not been resolved or dropped from the bill. “So despite assurances from our friends on the Republican side of the aisle that we would not have another FAA extension, Congress must now enact the 19th short-term extension,” he added. “If the House Republicans continue to insist on these controversial poison-pill provisions, the enactment of a longterm bill this year is in serious jeopardy, and we will be back here on the floor for more extensions in the future.”
The language in the GOP bill, H.R. 658, would repeal a National Mediation Board (NMB) decision that allowed unions to be formed by only counting the votes of members who vote. Prior to this 2010 decision, non-voting members were counted as “no” votes.
In early April, the House narrowly rejected a Republican amendment that would have taken this language out. The 206-220 vote was immediately seen as something that would prevent the Senate and White House from accepting the House bill.
On the funding issue, Costello said the House bill has been widely criticized for making steep cuts in FAA funding, which many said would create air safety problems. The White House has said President Obama would veto the House bill if it were presented for his signature.
Source: THE HILL