Senate starts debate on amendment to slash aviation spending to 2008 levels

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) proposed an amendment on Tuesday that would reduce the money authorized to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

The amendment, which would cut the agency’s funding back to 2008 spending levels, is almost certain to fail in a vote Tuesday evening.

Paul, who has pledged to use every opportunity in the Senate possible to call attention to the nation's overspending, said the amendment is needed to help tackle the deficit.

"Its irresponsible as legislators to stand up here and say more, more, more, more," Rand said on the Senate floor. "We can't do it.  We are talking about the consequences of a massive debt."

Paul also said he was speaking for the American people who "instinctively know this."

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) accused Paul of proposing cuts "at the heart of the FAA" and claimed he wants to "cut blindly."

"I don't believe this is a thoughtful suggestion because it doesn't reflect where we are today or where we will be in the future," Durbin said.

Paul has chosen a controversial path since joining the Senate this year. Rejecting most compromises, he has proposed and supported legislation like the FAA amendment that many of his Republican colleagues reject. 

Paul's amendment, however, does match a pledge by many House Republicans and some Senate Republicans to slash overall spending for 2011 to 2008 levels.

The Senate is now engaged in 100 minutes of debate on the amendment. The debate is equally divided between Paul and FAA floor manager Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.).

Upon the expiration or yielding back of debate time the Senate will proceed to a vote on the Paul amendment.

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