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FAA Bill first Battleground for New Senate...


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The FAA bill is turning out to be a nice little battleground for the new Senate (I imagine all bills will be this contention in the 112th Congress, specifically the Senate). Senator Paul introduced an amendment to exempt spending from Davis-Bacon Act (that is, government doesn't have to pay a "prevailing wage" to unionized construction workers on Federal projects). There's going to be a debate on another GOP amendment to cap spending at 2008 levels for the FAA.

This was the Democratic point on the wage provision:

I have a friend in Iowa who happens to be one of the largest contractors in the Midwest, if not in the entire country. He has big earth-moving equipment. He is a huge contractor. He probably does work in Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, and everyplace else. He told me once: I will only hire union labor. I asked him why. He said: Because they have a great apprenticeship and training program. Plus, he said: I know I get well-trained workers on my construction jobs. He said: I don't mind Davis-Bacon because I get apprenticeship, I get training, plus I get workers I don't have to look over their shoulders all the time. I get quality work done. He said: I didn't get big by undercutting everybody. I got big because I did good work, and I got good quality. He is able to go head to head with nonunion contractors, and he has become the largest contractor because of the quality of his work.
This is the GOP closing point:
Mr. President, this amendment is not about quality. It is not about unions. It is about a Federal Government that is spending too much money, and it is about an enormous debt we have. It is about starting somewhere. People agree that you save money if you do not have to pay the prevailing wage. Everybody knows it. The gallery knows it. The public knows it. In Kentucky, schools cost 30 percent more if you have prevailing wage. You build less schools. Your money does not go as far. It is not a good efficient use of your money. With regard to quality, to imply that you cannot have quality unless it is union labor, unless it is prevailing wage, completely ignores what goes on in our economy; that is to say, the 90 percent of things that are made in our country that are nonunion and nonprevailing wage do not have quality. The argument is specious. It has no substance.

The Democrats were able to table the amendment which would've exempted FAA from paying "prevailing wage". Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mark Kirk (IL), and Mike Johanns (NE) broke rank and voted with the Democrats.

Supposedly there were more votes today and will be more tomorrow. The debate on the GOP's spending cuts will probably be the most interesting and set the battle lines for battle over the debt ceiling / budget deficit to come in March.

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