This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) that would have required mechanics working as federally contracted employees at aircraft repair stations to undergo criminal background checks. This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, and limiting the ability of federal aviation and railroad workers to form unions. (The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has regulatory authority over all civil aviation in the United States.)
The Transportation Workers Union had been highly critical of the use of aircraft repair stations outside the United States, and strongly supported the background check requirement called for in DeFazio’s amendment. Airlines, however, which rely on outsourcing services for such repairs, had opposed such a regulation.
DeFazio urged support for his amendment: “Now, the current law requires that people who repair aircraft at airports undergo criminal background checks that are quite extensive because there's a concern that they have access to airplanes, that we want to know who they are, we want to be sure they don't have a criminal background, and they can be denied employment for a large range of former felonies or problems, let alone any affiliation with terrorist groups. Not so at domestic contract repair stations or foreign contract repair stations. The employees there undergo no criminal background checks, or only criminal background checks at the discretion of the employer. They can be certified to do the most critical de-check work, overhauls on airplanes.”
Rep. John Mica (R-FL) opposed the amendment: “FAA is not a security agency. It's an aviation agency. And…we have a jurisdictional question here. We can't put in provisions that require TSA [the Transportation Security Administration] to do certain things, but that is their responsibility….TSA is in the process of promulgating a rule to address repair station security. But it, appropriately, is in their realm, not FAA. And we do get into trouble in trying to carry out some of these missions when we go to agencies that really this is not their responsibility, their charter under Congress. Again, I think the gentleman's intent is good, but it's misapplied. So with that, I have to oppose the amendment as crafted.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 161-263. Voting “yea” were 155 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 6 Republicans. 229 Republicans and 34 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have required mechanics working as federally contracted employees at aircraft repair stations to undergo criminal background checks.