The Senate Thursday failed to make any notable progress on the FAA reauthorization bill. The bill has been stalled over an airline pension issue, non-aviation-related items and a procedural dispute between Democrats and Republicans.
Last night, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the Senate aviation subcommittee, stripped a controversial airline pension provision from his substitute amendment. The action helps American and Continental Airlines but aggravated Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
To the dismay of Republican lawmakers, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) then "filled the amendment tree" last night - a procedural maneuver to prevent members from offering amendments to the FAA bill. Reid tried to assure Republican lawmakers that he is still willing to consider germane amendments. But Republicans voiced their strong objections to Reid's floor action and to non-aviation-related tax items included in the Rockefeller substitute amendment.
Meanwhile, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced a runway safety bill Wednesday that could force airports to comply with excessive aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) standards being proposed by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). The version of the Lautenberg bill obtained by AAAE's Airport Legislative Alliance includes an ARFF provision that is similar to language in the House-passed version of the FAA reauthorization bill and a draft amendment that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) may offer during consideration of the FAA reauthorization bill.
AAAE legislative members may view the full Airport Alert online at http://www.aaae.org/government/125_AAAE_Airport_Legislative_Alliance/legdescription.html?Alert_ID=978.