Franken and Klobuchar, in the minority, vote against anti-union bill

The bill providing long-term funding for the Federal Aviation Administration is a case study in how complicated legislation coming before the U.S. Senate can be.

As a condition of funding the FAA long-term, congressional Republicans demanded that the percentage of transportation workers' signatures required to petition for a union to be formed increase from 35 to 50. Unsurprisingly, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar oppose that provision, but the bill also contained two separate provisions each of the Minnesota senators support -- protecting funding for small, rural airports in Minnesota, and funding to hasten the transition to a satellite-based air traffic control navigation system that's expected to reduce delays and lower pollution.

In the end, Franken and Klobuchar determined that the anti-union provision was the most crucial aspect of the bill, which they voted against. The bill ended up passing by a vote of 75-20, with five Republicans joining 15 Democrats in opposition.

In explaining his "no" vote, Franken said that "this legislation will make it harder for Minnesotans to get the workplace protections provided by unions, and that's simply unacceptable to me."

Klobuchar raised a more general concern about all the varying provisions crammed into the bill. "Provisions that have nothing to do with the FAA were added to the conference report, and I don't believe this legislation is an appropriate venue for making unrelated policy decisions," she said.

As Klobuchar's comments suggest, in the U.S. Senate, things are almost always more complicated than they seem. It's something to keep in mind if and when Republicans running against Klobuchar or Franken bash them for opposing long-term FAA funding.

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