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The Maryland and Virginia Senate delegations still aren’t happy about the plan to increase flights at Ronald Reagan National Airport.

New threats from Kaine, Warner as Senate labors to pass FAA bill

The Senate is staring down yet another deadline with no clear path to avert a lapse in the FAA’s authority tomorrow at midnight.

A little bit of “Senate magic” and Thursday afternoon jet fumes can always combine to bring about bipartisan cooperation, but the Senate’s FAA problem only got more complicated as the week went on.

Here’s the state of play.

The House cleared a weeklong FAA extension late Wednesday, but it’s unclear if the Senate will be able to pass it before the deadline to buy additional time to finish up the five-year reauthorization bill. This can’t happen without unanimous consent.

Senators from both parties have vowed to block the weeklong extension without a firm commitment from party leaders that their amendments will see a floor vote. The concern is that the short-term patch allows leadership to simply run out the procedural clock, blocking the possibility of amendment votes.

“Everybody’s got holds on this right now,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune lamented.

News: The Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport slots issue is heating up. Virginia Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner are out with a new statement this morning vowing to block the one-week extension until they get a guarantee that their amendment — which nixes a provision adding new flight slots at DCA — gets a vote.

“We can’t in good conscience greenlight that plan until we have a commitment that there will be an opportunity to put our amendment to a vote,” the pair said in a statement.

For what it’s worth, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the GOP floor manager for the FAA bill, told Republicans during their closed-door lunch Wednesday that there wouldn’t be any amendment votes. But Democrats were increasingly optimistic last night that there would be, including on the Kaine-Warner amendment. Cruz later said he believes the process could completely “unravel” if that amendment were to be adopted.

The Senate has a cloture vote at 1 p.m. today. Senators can then speak for up to an hour each for a total of 30 hours unless time is yielded back. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will then need to take procedural steps to set up yet another cloture vote. You get the point here. Absent a time agreement, it’s going to take a while to finish this up.

— Andrew Desiderio

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