This was a vote on passage of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. The reauthorization bill provided $70 billion for airport capital improvements and $16.2 billion in airport improvement funding around the country. 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, the increased the maximum passenger facility fee that airports can charge.
Rep. Arcuri (D-NY) began his statement in support of the bill and the rule for it 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.” There were some Republicans who spoke favorably of the bill, including Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL). He 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. “
A number of Republicans had significant concerns about various elements of the legislation. Rep. Blackburn (R-TN) claimed that the bill “detrimentally impacts American job creation, and will further exacerbate the federal deficit during an economic downturn.” She pointed to the language she said “rewrites modern aviation labor law by requiring FedEx Express employees to organize under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) rather than the Railway Labor Act (RLA),” which she said “will almost certainly disrupt the company's plans for economic expansion. Furthermore, H.R. 915 would terminate airline code-share alliance agreements between airlines and the U.S. Government after three years. In so doing the legislation will disrupt antitrust protection that is considered critical by the airline industry, and threaten at least 15,000 domestic airline jobs.”
Rep. Blackburn also argued that the multi-billion dollar outlay in the bill from “a federal budget already stretched thin by trillions of dollars in deficit spending . . . will only add to the credit card tab mounting at an astonishing pace in only five months of unified Democrat leadership.
Rep. Petri (R-WI) said: (W)hile there are clearly many useful provisions . . . which we do support, there are, unfortunately, several which we do not. And . . . one of the important areas (is) . . . the foreign repair station inspection language. He said that requiring twice annual inspections of repair stations in Europe would be opposed by the European Union and will violate the spirit of the United States-European Union Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement.”
The bill passed by a vote of 277-136. Two hundred and forty Democrats and thirty-seven Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred and thirty-two Republicans and four Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the House approved and sent to the Senate the FAA Reauthorization Act.