Democrats object to union language, spending cuts in FAA bill

Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) argued that the bill amounts to "more of the same" from Republicans, who he charged are trying to undercut unions. He was joined by Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), who plans to offer an amendment to strip the union language from the bill.

LaTourette said the union language does not belong in the bill, and rejected arguments from other Republicans that it should stay because the NMB reversed a rule that had been in place for decades. "Just because something's been around for a long time doesn't make it right," LaTourette said.

The Obama administration on Wednesday warned that it would veto an FAA bill that includes language making it harder to form unions. "If the President is presented with a bill that would not safeguard the ability of railroad and airline workers to decide whether or not they would be represented by a union based upon a majority of the ballots cast in an election or that would degrade safe and efficient air traffic, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill," the White House said.

Regarding funding levels, McGovern reiterated Democratic arguments that FAA spending cuts in the bill threaten jobs. He said the bill would cut $2 billion in airport improvement funds, which he said would cost 70,000 jobs.

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) fought back Democratic charges that Republicans were pursuing the bill under a process that is not open, and noted that 33 amendments to the bill have been made in order. As Democrats complained about the underlying bill, Webster argued that they should support the rule because of the relatively open amendment process.

House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) agreed, and dismissed arguments that Republicans are not allowing enough participation from the Democratic side. Mica said most amendments offered will be considered, and said Democrats did not allow nearly this level of openness when they ran the House in the last Congress.

"So don't talk to me about fairness and rules," Mica said, adding that the House should pass the bill and work to prevent "more hot air passing through this chamber."