Flight delays get rare cooperative action in Congress
Lawmakers from both parties agree to more funding for the FAA to relieve sequester-prompted furloughs of air traffic controllers.
It's been a rough week for air travelers in the U.S., as the automatic federal spending cuts required by the sequester kicked in. Furloughs were triggered for about 15,000 Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers as part of the FAA's $600 million, across-the-board budget cuts.
The resulting flight delays at major cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York were expected, but they came with a vengeance. According to FAA data quoted by CNN more than 3,000 flights have experienced significant delays since last Sunday, thanks to reduced staffing of air traffic controllers.
But late Thursday night, just as Congress was planning its Friday getaway from Washington for a week-long recess, the Senate unanimously passed a plan to ease those FAA spending cuts. The U.S. House of Representatives passed it on Friday, and President Barack Obama is likely to sign it shortly.
The three-page bill allows for up to $253 million dollars to be moved into the FAA's operations budget. That would end -- if only for the moment -- the air traffic controller furloughs. But it's unclear if that funding could be used to help restaff the nearly 149 air traffic control towers at smaller, regional airports that were also hit by sequestration.
As expected, lawmakers declared a victory as they packed up to go home. "Something rare has happened in Washington," Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., told WSB Radio, "the Senate came together on a bipartisan basis."
"We should not allow sequestration to cripple travel, tourism, business and commerce," added Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.
The White House said it welcomed Congress' action, but noted it was a short-term solution to the larger issues caused by the sequestration.
"It will be good news for America's traveling public if Congress spares them these unnecessary delays," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement quoted by Reuters. However, Carney added, "this is no more than a temporary Band-Aid that fails to address the overarching threat to our economy posed by the sequester's mindless across-the-board cuts."
The airlines have been clamoring this week for the government to do something to resolve the air traffic controller issue. "Common sense tells all of us that this can't go on," Southwest Airlines (LUV) CEO Gary Kelly told Bloomberg on Thursday. "It does need a quick resolution."
cocktail with the mistress...or is that the wife?....or the wife AND the mistress?
Yes, thats it !
535 Colossal Wastes of Public Money !!!
And they have the nerve to call anyone else "entitled".
Once again our elected representatives have demonstrated that our laws are meant for the general public and not themselves. The only book they worship is their pocket books. They are similar to the Mafia: they care only about themselves - the rest of us are just along for the ride The president should have put congress on furlough w/o pay. That is the only thing that would have resonated with their political agendas. They are worse than cowards: they have theirs so they care not about the general welfare of our citizens.
Obama Rejects GOP call to appropriate sequester cuts, LA Times, Feb.26, 2013.
The GOP offered Obama the authority to pick where the domestic cuts hit within departments, but it was rejected.
They should be doing this with every department on the sequester cuts. We waste 15% or more of all the money we spend, much more than the cuts.
Maybe there should be a tax added to each airline ticket and to each package shipped by air to help offset the cost of running the Air Traffic Controlers. Between local and international flights there would be a good source of income, provided it goes directly to the FAA ATC, the same with a package charge for UPS, FEDEX, Global, DHL etc.
The cost of running the ATC should be spread over the people who utilize it most. I understand they protect us all, but a tax on use would either fund the department, or limit flights.....both would increase Air Safety
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