Insurance Language Could Doom House FAA Bill: Senate Democrats

By Shaun Courtney

A must-pass bill to extend spending authority for the Federal Aviation Administration and provide tax breaks to hurricane victims could face opposition in the Senate if it maintains a provision to expand the private flood insurance market, a senior Democratic senator said.

“That will not get passed here,” Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, told reporters Sept. 26 about the House’s flood insurance provision.

A six-month FAA extension bill (H.R. 3823) failed to pass the House Sept. 25 under an expedited process requiring a two-thirds majority. House Democrats voted to defeat the bill, which also included tax breaks for hurricane victims and new private flood insurance provisions.

A new vote is scheduled for Sept. 28, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said. The bill reported out of the Rules Committee Sept. 26 retained the flood insurance and hurricane aid provisions. It will be debated in the House under a closed rule that allows for no amendments. The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy supporting the bill.

Nelson didn’t say the bill has to drop the non-FAA provisions to win his support, though that has been his preference.

“It depends on how unacceptable it is,” he said.

Thune Prefers Clean Bill

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the chairman of Senate Commerce, told reporters he would prefer a clean bill from the House.

“We’ll take up whatever they send us,” Thune said.

The House has to take the lead in passing a bill because the FAA’s authorization includes tax provisions and the Constitution requires all tax measures to originate in the House.

Thune said House lawmakers are discussing with Senate leaders how to proceed on the non-FAA provisions in the House bill that failed Sept. 25.

“They are mostly things I think our folks can support,” Thune said.

Ticking Clock

FAA spending authority expires Sept. 30. Without unanimous consent in the Senate, the procedural steps that would be needed to pass the bill could leave little margin for error.

“Anything that jeopardizes an extension on FAA, we can’t have that—that FAA’s not authorized,” Nelson said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shaun Courtney in Washington at scourtney@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

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