Monday, July 30, 2018

Senate Takes Up HR 6147 – Another Mini-Bus

Last week the Senate started consideration of HR 6147, the Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019. The Senate is considering substitute language (SA 3399) that adds language from S 2976 (FY 2019 ARF) and S 3028 (FY 2019 THUD spending). During the week there were a large number of amendments offered (see here, here, here and here), but only two of those may be of specific interest to readers of this blog. Once concerns unmanned aviation systems (UAS) and one addresses positive train control (PTC) implementation grants. Neither of the two amendments have been considered on the floor of the Senate to date.

UAS Amendment

SA 3516 (pg S5308) was proposed by Sen. Gardner (D,CO). It would amend 18 USC by adding a new section making it illegal to operate unauthorized unmanned aircraft over wildfires. This amendment is very similar to S 3132 which I have only briefly addressed.

PTC Grants

SA 3527 (pg S 5310) was proposed by Sen. Blumenthal (D,CT). The amendment would make available $150 million of existing grant monies specifically available for “for the implementation of positive train control” projects with priority being provided to projects relating to commuter rail operations.

Moving Forward

A cloture vote on the substitute language is scheduled for this week. Once action on the substitute language takes place, a cloture vote will be held on HR 6147. There is the possibility that additional amendments (possibly including the two listed above) may be considered under unanimous consent motions during the remaining debate.

The revised language being considered by the Senate means that this bill will have to go back to the House for consideration. This will almost certainly result in the House insisting on their language (particularly since the Senate language is drastically different than the House language in the Agriculture section of the bill (seen in HR 5961) and will result in a conference committee. There is an outside chance that the call for a conference committee could come during a pro forma session in August. Absent that, it will be September before the conference could meet; pushing the deadline for a final vote by September 30th.

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