This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) that would have allowed airports to implement mandatory nighttime curfews (which would have banned most air traffic between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.). This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, and limiting the ability of federal aviation and railroad workers to form unions. (The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has regulatory authority over all civil aviation in the United States.) Under the amendment, only airports which had at least a partial curfew in place prior to 1990 would be permitted to impose a curfew.
A 1990 law had required airports to receive permission from the FAA to impose curfews. Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, CA—which had a curfew in place prior to 1990—had unsuccessfully applied for such a permit at the urging of Burbank areas residents who complained about the noise generated by nighttime air travel.
Schiff urged support for the amendment: “Opponents of the amendment contend there's already an established process to consider a community's request for a curfew. However, the process was designed to be so difficult that in the decades since it was established by the FAA, only one airport in the nation has successfully completed an application--Bob Hope Airport--and then it was summarily turned down. After spending $7 million and 9 years of effort, the FAA rejected Bob Hope's request, erroneously contending that the small number of flights impacted by the curfew would impose too great a strain on the country's aviation system and too great a cost on users. In reality, the FAA approached this process in reverse, beginning with the conclusion it wished to reach and working backwards to try and justify its result.”
Rep. John Mica (R-FL) opposed the amendment: “Prior to 1990…we didn't have a regulation for a standard airport noise control... Congress enacted a law. And they did this because we get into the situation that any airport could impose various flight restrictions. And what you do is start closing down a national system because, again, you have no consistent regulation. And we set up a procedure in that law. Now, it is true that Bob Hope had applied, spent money, and then was denied….And Bob Hope can go back and apply. If we open this up and we start taking airport by airport and granting certain levels of activity in time, we start destroying a national aviation system.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 178-243. Voting “yea” were 170 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 8 Republicans. 225 Republicans and 18 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have allowed airports to implement mandatory nighttime curfews (which would have banned most air traffic between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.).