Skip to content
Sign up to receive our free weekday morning edition, and you'll never miss a scoop.
Chuck Schumer, Senate to tries to jam House on FAA reauthorization bill

The Senate will jam the House — again

It’s going to happen again. The Senate is about to jam the House once more — this time on the five-year FAA reauthorization bill.

Regardless of when it ultimately gets done and what might hitch a ride on it, the House will have little choice but to swallow whatever the Senate passes to reauthorize the nation’s aviation programs.

House GOP leaders know they’ll have to move quickly on the must-pass FAA bill when they receive it from the Senate, which could be well after the Friday night deadline. In the meantime, House and Senate leaders are working to ensure it doesn’t turn into a “Christmas tree” of sorts for unrelated legislation.

The House has already been steamrolled as part of this messy, months-long process.

You’ll recall that last summer, the House rejected an effort to add new flight slots at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport. But a slot expansion was included in the Senate bill anyway. It’s unclear whether senators will get a separate vote on this issue before sending the FAA bill to the House.

There’s been some criticism in House Republican leadership circles that Speaker Mike Johnson didn’t pass a short-term FAA patch to try to head off the Senate’s bill. Instead, Johnson will probably get flak from conservatives that members are being forced to swallow a gigantic bill while jammed up against a deadline. Which sounds familiar.

The latest: It’s clear now that the Senate will try to plow through to finish the FAA reauthorization, with or without a time agreement.

Under regular order, the Senate wouldn’t be able to pass it until the weekend, well after the Friday night deadline. Leadership in both parties ran separate hotlines late Tuesday night to see if it was possible to clinch an agreement to finish by Friday.

The Democratic hotline listed only two amendment votes — one on the DCA slots issue and another on facial recognition technology — while the GOP hotline included a mix of germane and non-germane amendments.

The next procedural hurdle comes on Thursday when the Senate will hold the first of two required cloture votes. Senators demanding amendment votes could try to deny cloture if there isn’t an agreement before then.

If there’s no time agreement before Friday night, the Senate could try to quickly pass a short-term extension of the FAA’s authority. Of course, all it takes is one objection to derail that.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer cited “progress” Tuesday on the germane amendments — and indeed, there was tangible movement. Negotiators were able to resolve a dispute over a provision about automatic refunds and made nine additional noncontroversial tweaks to the bill.

As we noted last week, Sen. Ted Cruz, the GOP floor manager for the bill, has adopted a posture that’s unusual for the Texas Republican — urging colleagues to cooperate and not throw up roadblocks. Cruz doubled down Tuesday as he tries to notch a bipartisan win ahead of his reelection bid in November.

“This is a bill that incorporates hundreds of member priorities from both sides of the aisle,” Cruz said as he emerged from a GOP leadership meeting, which is another odd place for Cruz to be. “I’m certainly open to non-germane amendments, but it’s not clear that those will move forward without objections from other members.”

Of course, the difficult part here is the pile of non-germane bipartisan amendments. There’s the Kids Online Safety Act. An effort to fund the Affordable Connectivity Program. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. And many more.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune warned that allowing votes on unrelated bills would be a slippery slope.

“If one gets added, there will be a whole bunch more that will put holds on the bill,” Thune said. “It’s unlikely anything non-germane makes it because of that.”

The challenge here for the leadership in both parties is that there are already a few senators who have said they won’t consent to a time agreement if their non-germane amendments don’t get a vote.

If that holds, it almost certainly guarantees the Senate won’t finish this up before Friday night. The alternative is to find a list of amendment votes that all 100 senators can live with. As Thune noted, this could open up the floodgates and make an agreement impossible.

Also: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has paused her efforts to oust Johnson. She made demands — which we scooped — and Johnson says he’s working on considering some of them. Johnson denies he is negotiating with Greene.

Look at Johnson’s eye roll when we told him Greene wanted answers from him soon.

— Andrew Desiderio and Jake Sherman

Presented by The Coalition to Project American Jobs

It’s taking the IRS years to process a small business tax credit. 1M+ small business owners who filed for the Employee Retention Credit are stuck in backlog or waiting on payment for their claims. Tell the IRS to lift the moratorium now.

Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.