This was a vote on a motion to table (kill) an amendment by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that would have prohibited public works projects funded by a Federal Aviation Administration bill from complying with the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires that all public works projects pay the prevailing wage to workers. This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. (The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has regulatory authority over all civil aviation in the United States.) Specifically, Paul’s amendment would have prohibited the FAA bill’s funds from being used to enforce the Davis-Bacon Act.
Paul urged support for his amendment: “…The amendment I have offered to the FAA bill is an amendment to exempt the FAA from the Davis-Bacon restrictions. Most of us know, when we talk about schools being built in our district or in our neighborhood, the cost of schools and anything built under Davis-Bacon determines prevailing wages. This means if you are a carpenter making usually $14 an hour in Bowling Green, KY, the government comes in and says, Well, you need to pay $35 an hour. It inflates the cost of building projects and it does us no good as a society….We can build 20 to 30 percent more airports if we don't force union wages that are above the market wages on our government projects. I think it is inexcusable, at a time when we run a deficit of between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion in a year that we want to inflate the cost of government projects.”
Sen. Tom Harkon (D-IA) argued in opposition to Paul’s amendment: “The fact is that Davis-Bacon doesn't just create good jobs, it saves government money in federal construction costs. Again, my friend from Kentucky has said this is going to cost more money. Well, I would like to see the studies because we have had a lot of studies on this over the years, and they show that prevailing wage laws lead to reductions in the costs and responsible contractors that pay workers at least a prevailing wage, higher productivity, and fewer safety problems. We need Davis-Bacon so that our infrastructure projects are built safely for the hundreds of millions of Americans who rely on them, because contractors that pay prevailing wages hire higher skilled and better trained workers, and they produce safer buildings, airports, bridges, roads, and tunnels. Senator Paul's amendment would undermine public safety by making it much easier for less responsible contractors to build important public infrastructure projects with shoddy construction.”
The Senate voted to table (kill) this amendment by a vote of 55-42. All 52 Democrats present and 3 Republicans voted “yea.” 42 Republicans voted “nay” As a result, the Senate tabled (killed) an amendment that would have prohibited public works projects funded by a Federal Aviation Administration bill from complying with the Davis-Bacon Act.