Democrats argued that Davis-Bacon saves money in the long term by preventing "low-ball" contractors from underbidding on contracts and building unsafe infrastructure. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who is managing the FAA authorization bill, argued that the current law simply requires wages that are comparable to others in the region, and does not necessarily increase wage rates.
The Senate tonight also approved an amendment to the FAA bill from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) that would allow fines and prison terms to be imposed on anyone who aims a laser pointer at aircraft. This was a non-controversial amendment and passed easily in a 96-1 vote. Only Paul voted against the Whitehouse amendment.
The Senate is slowly getting to a backlog of more than two dozen amendments to the FAA bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said tonight that the Senate would continue working on amendments and hopes to finish early in the week of Feb. 14.
Reid also said only those amendments directly related to the FAA would be considered, and said more votes can be expected Monday night and Tuesday morning. After that, Senate Democrats have a retreat scheduled that will take up the rest of next week.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised Reid's handling of the FAA bill so far, and said it is being handled the way bills were handled "in the old days." Democrats have said they would consider amendments in pairs, one from Democrats, and one from Republicans.
Reid said the votes on the two amendments tonight are the last votes of the week in the Senate.