Senate Begins Amending FAA Bill

April 7, 2016

Last night, the U.S. Senate finally got to work on the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. Just after 8 p.m., the Senate formally took up an unrelated House-passed tax bill (H.R. 636) and then Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation chairman John Thune (R-SD) formally offered an amendment (#3464) to strike out the text of the House bill and replace it with the text of his committee’s FAA reauthorization bill.

Senators have filed 58 amendments to the Thune substitute as of the close of business last night. ETW has prepared a list of all amendments filed so far and has short summaries of each. That amendment list is here. Many of the amendments are drafted to specific page and line numbers of the Thune amendment, so be sure to bookmark this version of the Thune amendment if you need to refer to underlying text.

Just after Thune offered the substitute amendment, he called up two more amendments to his amendment and made them pending. One was the bipartisan compromise on aviation security (amendment #3512) consisting of the text of several other aviation security bills, versions of which have already passed the House or been reported in committee there (S. 2361, H.R. 2843, and H.R. 4698). The other pending amendment is a Gardner (R-CO) amendment (#3460) relating to drone operators.

Chairman Thune also locked in the unanimous consent of the Senate that today, the order of business will be the following amendments, in this order:

  • Gardner amendment #3460 (discussed above);
  • Thune amendment #3512 (discussed above);
  • Heinrich (D-NM) amendment #3482 (VIPR teams at TSA);
  • Thune #3462 (technical corrections to section 3104 of the bill regarding family assistance after accidents);
  • Schumer (D-NY) #3483 (airline seat size);
  • Thune #3463 (drone no-fly zones over nuclear facilities); and
  • Cantwell (D-WA) #3490 (physical assault on airline ticket agents).

Noticeably missing from this list is any amendment by Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) extending Airport and Airway Trust Fund taxes and expenditure authority. Hatch is working with Democrats on the fine print of a small package of green energy tax expenditures that the minority is demanding as the price for moving the bill forward.

The Senate convenes at 9:30 a.m. today, and following remarks by the two leaders, the chamber will immediately resume consideration of H.R. 636.

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