Senate may rework House-passed FAA bill to strip flood insurance language

Senate may rework House-passed FAA bill to strip flood insurance language
© Greg Nash

The Senate will likely rework an aviation bill passed in the House in order to strip out controversial flood insurance provisions, after the lower chamber tried to jam senators with the legislation before leaving town Thursday morning.

The measure is needed to keep the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) running past Sept. 30, when the agency’s current legal authority expires.

“Yea, I think there will be [changes to the bill],” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate panel approves GOP tax plan Republicans see rising Dem odds in Alabama Overnight Health Care: Nearly 1.5M sign up for ObamaCare so far | Schumer says Dems won't back ObamaCare deal if it's tied to tax bill | House passes fix to measure letting Pentagon approve medical treatments MORE (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told reporters on Thursday. “There aren’t the votes in the senate. They’ll block it. And with the short timeline we have to work with, that’s not a good outcome.”

The Senate’s No. 3 Republican added that the Senate will likely “pull out” the flood insurance language and send it back to the House, if they can come up with an agreement to address the flood issue at a later date.

“I’m hoping we can amend it with something that will pass the Senate,” Thune said.

Earlier in the week, the House gave itself the authority to pass bills under a fast-track procedure on Thursday that requires a two-thirds majority for passage.

Even though House members have already skipped town, the chamber will stay open for a pro-forma session, which means it could pass the Senate’s amended version of the bill under unanimous consent.

“I don’t have any objections to that,” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), ranking member on the House Transportation Committee, told reporters Thursday.

House Democrats blocked the FAA bill from passing earlier in the week under a fast-track procedure, forcing the do-over vote on Thursday.

At issue is language that was tacked onto the FAA extension to encourage the creation of private flood insurance markets.

Democrats and Louisiana Republicans have opposed the provision, saying the issue should be addressed as part of comprehensive flood insurance reform.

Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyTrump met Senate Republicans on ObamaCare fix Senate GOP tax bill will include repeal of ObamaCare mandate Alabama GOP chair warns party officials against write-in campaign MORE (R-La.), who issued a statement with Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) Wednesday evening expressing concern over the language, said Thursday he was “hopeful” that an agreement would be reached.

DeFazio warned that there could be a brief one or two day shutdown of the FAA, but said he hoped the agency would ignore it.