Democrats May Sink FAA Extension, Hurricane Tax Relief Package

Minority support needed to pass measure under fast track procedure

Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., oppose a GOP package to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration for six months and provide tax relief for hurricane victims. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Legislation that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration for six months and provide tax relief to victims of recent hurricanes could fail on the House floor Monday evening amid Democratic opposition. 

The minority party’s support is needed to pass the measure under a fast-track procedure known as suspension of the rules. Two-thirds support is required for passage on the suspension calendar, meaning at least 50 Democrats would need to vote “yes” if all 240 Republicans support the legislation. 

House Democratic leaders on Monday announced their opposition to the measure, with Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer and ranking members of the relevant committees penning a “Dear Colleague” letter urging the Democratic caucus to vote “no.”

“We write to ask that you join us in opposing it because the Majority is using this must-pass bill to push through unrelated Republican priorities — all while continuing to block Democrats from bringing the DREAM Act to the floor,” they wrote. 

In addition to Hoyer, Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member Peter DeFazio, Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., Ways and Means ranking member Richard Neal and Financial Services ranking member Maxine Waters signed onto the letter. 

The package includes extensions of three health care programs set to expire at the end of the month but excludes bipartisan priorities like the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Community Health Centers, the Democratic leaders wrote. 

“Furthermore, the tax provisions concerning disaster victims were assembled without Democratic input and leave out important items that were included for victims of prior disasters like Hurricane Katrina,” they said. 

The measure also includes a GOP priority of expanding private insurers’ access to the flood insurance market, while doing nothing to address the long-term stability of the National Flood Insurance Program, the Democrats said. 

“While many of us could support these proposals as part of an overall package that is balanced, we should not acquiesce in this one-sided process that omits Democratic priorities key to advancing the work of making opportunity more broadly available to the American people,” they wrote.

The Democratic leaders also lamented that Republicans did not provide them with an opportunity to amend the bill to include the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide young undocumented immigrants like ones covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program with an opportunity to obtain legal status and eventually citizenship.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi earlier Monday issued a statement announcing her opposition to the measure, saying the GOP is “advancing a sprawling FAA extension package laden with completely unrelated and inadequate items.”

The California Democrat said the FAA needs long-term certainty for controllers and other dedicated FAA employees and that Republicans’ “radical and dangerous campaign to privatize the FAA” has prevented that. 

“Much more needs to be done to address the needs of Americans recovering from hurricanes and other natural disasters,” Pelosi added. “The weak tax provisions added to this package don’t treat all families recovering from natural disasters the same.  All Americans, no matter where they live, deserve the same relief and resources they need to rebuild their lives.”

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