This was a vote on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debating the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. The Act provided $70 billion for airport capital improvements and $16.2 billion in airport improvement funding. It also required additional air safety requirements, including semi-annual FAA inspections of foreign repair stations, and drug and alcohol testing on those working on U.S. aircraft. In addition, it increased the maximum passenger facility fee that airports can charge.
The rule for the bill permitted only certain amendments to be offered to it. The Republican minority had continually objected during the current Congress to rules such as this one that did not permit any Member to offer an amendment. The Republicans claimed that this unduly limited debate and did not permit all citizens to be adequately represented by their Members of Congress.
Rep. Arcuri (D-NY) began his statement in support of the rule and the bill by acknowledging that many of the safety improvements mandated by the bill “come with increased costs”. However, he added that the measure was still “long overdue.” Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), speaking in support of the purpose of the reauthorization act said that “(I)f U.S. air travel is to continue its fundamental role in our economy, we have to make certain that we have the safest, most modern and efficient transportation system in the world. By reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration funding and safety oversight programs, the underlying legislation that is being brought to the floor takes an important step toward that goal. “
Rep. Diaz Balart then said “(A)lthough I support the underlying legislation . . . I must oppose the rule that is bringing it to the floor because it blocks . . . a complete and fair debate unnecessarily . . . The rule brought forth by the majority today forbids the House from considering amendments from Members on both sides of the aisle. Yes, it allows four out of six Republican amendments that were introduced in the Rules Committee, but it blocks, it prohibits, a total of 21 amendments. Some of those amendments are bipartisan amendments, and most are amendments from the majority party. I may not have voted for all those amendments . . . but I certainly believe that this House should have had the opportunity to debate them, to consider them, and to vote on all the amendments.”
Diaz-Balart questioned the “logic” of the Democratic majority in restricting the number of amendments that could be offered on this “legislation that obviously enjoys almost consensus support. I recognize the obligations of the majority to frame debate here and to organize the floor. . . (but) the amount of very strictly organized rules . . . has been really extraordinary and, I think, unnecessary.”
The resolution passed by a vote of 234-178. All the “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Nine other Democrats joined with one hundred and sixty-nine Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to move to consideration of the FAA Reauthorization Act.