Sen. Rockefeller says Democrats delaying FAA bill

Rockefeller is expected to continue to allow amendments to be submitted this week and possibly into next week before finalizing an agreement with Republicans on which amendments will come up for a vote.

Democrats allowed two healthcare amendments to the FAA bill yesterday; one to repeal the healthcare law was rejected, but one to end an IRS tax reporting requirement was accepted. Still, the Senate may still have to decide whether to consider other healthcare amendments to the FAA bill.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has proposed an amendment to the FAA bill that is a sense of Congress asking the Supreme Court to decide on whether the healthcare law is constitutional. Yesterday, Nelson said a prompt Supreme Court decision would help prevent Congress from continuing to fight about the law.

Also related to healthcare, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) are proposing an amendment that would extend a health insurance tax credit under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

Other amendment proposals have nothing to do with either the FAA or healthcare. One from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) would require the U.S. government to prioritize old age, survivors' and disability pay through the Social Security Administration in the event that the government reaches its debt limit later this year. This is similar to an amendment from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would ensure that government payments on interest on U.S. debt takes priority in the event that the U.S. reaches its debt limit.

Each of these amendments indicate that a decision to extend the U.S. debt limit may be difficult to reach, as several Republicans are arguing that the U.S. should cut government spending rather than raise the debt ceiling.

Several pending amendments are FAA-related and could be taken up next week. One from Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) would require criminal penalties to be applied to anyone who makes an unauthorized recording of security screening images or distributes those images. This is an apparent reaction to some passenger complaints that security images have been distributed.

Another from Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) would require the secretary of Defense to report on any unfair competitive advantage that might have existed in the context of contract awards for the KC-X aerial refueling program. One amendment from Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) would expand direct flight service to Reagan National Airport.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has proposed an amendment that would limit the legal liability of volunteer pilots, such as those that fly for humanitarian or emergency purposes. One from Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who spoke on the floor today about his amendment, would deny Transportation Security Administration employees collective bargaining rights.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) would real the essential air service program, which subsidizes air service in smaller communities and costs about $200 million per year.