Congress Passes Law To Halt FAA Controller Furloughs, Tower Closures

By Michael Bruno michael_bruno@aviationweek.com
Source: AWIN First
April 26, 2013
Credit: Architect of the Capitol

The U.S. House of Representatives today moved to avert the FAA’s air traffic controller furloughs and closure of 149 contract towers with the passage of a bill to allow the agency to reallocate funds.

The bill mirrors legislation passed late April 25 by the U.S. Senate.

While the House debated the bill early April 26, a White House spokesman said President Barack Obama would sign the measure, seeing it as “good news” that Congress acted to avert growing problems with air traffic. The White House also called for lawmakers to undo all of the 2011 Budget Control Act’s sequestration cuts that caused the furloughs.

“The problem is, this is a Band-Aid solution,” the spokesman said.

The Obama Administration and most Democrats are pushing congressional Republicans to undo the sequestration cuts, which started in March.

“Before we start patting each other on the back for this bill, I think it’s important that we recognize that we’re not fixing the bigger problems that the sequester has created,” said Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.), ranking Democrat on the House Aviation subcommittee.

Most Republicans lay blame with the administration and FAA officials for inconveniencing the public to make a political statement, or at least not trying to reduce the impact of sequestration on air traffic as much as Republicans think they could have. However, some Republican legislators acknowledged that sequestration is having undesired impacts and called on Congress to address other issues, as it did with the controller furloughs.

“This can happen all throughout the government,” said Rep. Blake Farenhold (R-Texas), a member of the Aviation subcommittee.

The FAA furloughs began April 21 and Congress is in recess next week, so the bill had to be passed by the weekend or be delayed until lawmakers return May 6.


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