This was a vote on an amendment by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that would have reduced funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA, which oversees all civil aviation in the U.S.) to 2008 funding levels. This would have effectively cut funding for the FAA by $4 billion. This amendment was offered to legislation that would extend funding for federal transportation programs for six months. (Funding for such programs was scheduled to lapse at the end of September, two weeks after this vote took place.)
Paul urged support for his amendment: “This amendment says spending in the FAA bill go to 2008 levels. Since 2008, spending in our government has gone up 25 percent. We are mounting a deficit of $1.5 trillion. Our Nation's debt is $14 trillion. There are significant ramifications to incurring so much debt. The debt does have a face--it is the face of unemployment. Economists have said our debt burden is leading to our losing 1 million jobs a year; that 1 million people are out of work because of the debt we carry….What this amendment asks is that we go back to 2008 levels, which, believe it or not, if we did this through the entire government, will still not balance the budget. This is a modest proposal. It is the very least we can do if we believe in a responsible budget and that we must balance our budget.”
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) opposed Paul’s amendment: “I rise in opposition--very strong opposition--to the Paul amendment. The Senate voted on this earlier this year and turned it down very emphatically. The Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, is taken for granted by some. They just assume there will always be money and everything can go on constantly….The FAA has raised very substantial concerns publicly--but more importantly, from my point of view, to me privately--that at all levels they will have to start compromising safety, although they will not intend to, and eventually we will put FAA at risk. It is a very bad and dangerous amendment--a mischievous amendment--and it should be defeated.”
The Senate rejected Paul’s amendment by a vote of 36-61. Voting “yea” were 36 Republicans. All 51 Democrats present and 10 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have cut $4 billion from the Federal Aviation Administration.