By Keith Laing - 03/31/11 03:45 PM EDT
The amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill would repeal a rule finalized by the National Mediation Board (NMB) in May of last year that allows workers at companies covered by the Railway Labor Act to form unions if a majority votes in favor.
Under the old rules, workers who did not cast ballots in union elections would be counted as "no" votes. Under the revised version, they would not be counted.
The fight over the union provision has overshadowed a bill that began as an effort to end a three-year delay in authorizing a long-term funding plan for the FAA. Opponents have assailed the proposal to change the NMB rules as "undemocratic," but House Republicans predicted this week the provision would remain in the bill.
If that happens, the White House said Wednesday, the president's "senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill."
Having worked with a Democratic-controlled Congress his first two years in office, Obama has used his veto powers sparingly. However, if the FAA bill does 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," the White House made clear he would use it here.
As it has debated a larger FAA bill, which would fund the administration for four years, Congress has passed 17 short-term authorizations. The most recent stopgap measure, through September, was passed this week.
The first series of votes on the FAA bill are expected Thursday around 2:15 p.m.