NMB Rules Remain The Only Roadblock To Long-Term Funding
The only thing apparently standing in the way of a long-term
funding bill for the FAA is a 2010 National Mediation Board rule
which changed how votes are counted in airline and other union
The bill passed by the Republican-controlled House this spring
contained language to overturn the NMB rule, which makes it easier
for labor unions to win representation elections at airlines. The
rule was not overturned by the Democratically-controlled Senate
version, and the leadership of the relevant committees have been
trying to get to a conference report that can pass both chambers
Democrats are pointing to recent union elections in which
airline workers have decided against union representation even
under the new rules as proof that the system is working as it is.
But an aide for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told
Politico that "at the moment, there is no agreement."
Other differences between the two versions ... such as overall
funding levels, the Essential Air Services Program, and rules for
shipping certain batteries ... have reportedly all be resolved. The
labor issue remains as the only apparent roadblock to the bills'
passage. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the ranking Republican on the
Senate Commerce Committee, told Politico that she thinks
"once the NMB is settled, everything will trigger. I just hope it's
The FAA has been without a long-term funding measure since the
last one expired in 2007. It has been operating under a string of
continuing resolutions since that time ... and a total of 22 CR's
have been passed to keep the agency's doors open. The current
funding mechanism expires January 31st, 2012.