Senate Passage of FAA Bill Set for Wednesday at Latest

October 1, 2018 – 10:00 p.m.

Earlier this evening, the US Senate voted to limit debate on the question of agreeing to the bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill by a vote of 92 t0 7.

The seven “no” votes were Senators Barrasso (R-WY), Lee (R-UT), Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Paul (R-KY), Toomey (R-PA), and Wyden (D-OR). (Ed. Note: With that spread of “no” votes, one can try to guess who the “holds” might have been that forced House and Senate leaders to push a “pre-conferenced” bill through the Senate via tween-chamber amendments, but never be quite sure.) The absentees on the cloture vote were Senators Flake (R-AZ), Heller (R-NV), and Nelson (D-FL).

Under Senate rules, this means that the final vote on agreeing to the FAA bill should occur no later than 30 hours after the conclusion of the cloture vote (which was 6:10 p.m. Monday), and that would be just after midnight Wednesday night – but once the fix is in, the Senate routinely agrees to move the final vote to a more convenient time, so one can expect the final vote on H.R. 302 either Tuesday afternoon or early evening (if Senators are in an agreeable mood) or shortly after the Senate convenes on Wednesday morning (of Senators are feeling less agreeable).

Even if that schedule slips a bit, the full FAA reauthorization bill (H.R. 302) will still be sent to the President’s desk days before the expiration of the final short-term Airport and Airway Trust Fund reauthorization bill (H.R. 6897) that extends aviation taxes, spending and authorities through October 7.

In addition, the Senate also passed a minor surface transportation bill on Monday evening by unanimous consent – H.R. 4921, which requires the Surface Transportation Board to implement the recommendations of a Department of Transportation Inspector General audit relating to IT security.

Coming up this week: since the House has left town for the elections, aside from the FAA bill, all that is left on Capitol Hill this week is Wednesday’s Senate Commerce hearing on positive train control (PTC) implementation, which is set to include the new head of New Jersey Transit explaining how he has turned his railroad’s last-place implementation performance (amongst major commuter railroads) into something that might possibly meet the statutory deadline.


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