House Approves Bill To End Traffic Controller Furloughs
Update: Friday, April 26 — Congress easily approved legislation Friday ending furloughs of air traffic controllers that have delayed hundreds of flights daily, infuriating travelers and causing political headaches for lawmakers.
The House approved the measure on a 361-41 vote, a day after the Senate swiftly agreed to the bill.
The vote came as lawmakers prepared to leave town for a weeklong spring recess, a break that would have been less pleasant if they were confronted by constituents upset over travel delays.
Congressman Scott Peters said in a written statement that he voted for the bill but added that lawmakers should reconsider making decisions piece-by-piece when it comes to restoring funds that were hacked from the federal budget because of sequestration.
"...this piece-by-piece approach to budgeting is not the way to run a country," he said. ""Even though we helped air traffic today, the same issue will come up at the end of this year. We need to be working to end the entire sequester that caused these indiscriminate cuts and look for ways to come to a budget agreement through negotiating across the aisle."
With flight delays mounting, the Senate has passed legislation to end air traffic controller furloughs blamed for inconveniencing large numbers of travelers.
Approval came without dissent, and long after many senators had left the Capitol for a week-long vacation.
A House vote is expected as early as Friday.
Under the measure, the Federal Aviation Administration would gain authority to transfer up to $253 million from accounts that are flushed into other programs, to "prevent reduced operations and staffing," through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.
Officials said that would likely be enough to restore full staffing for the furloughed controllers, as well as prevent the closure of small airport towers.
The Ramona Airport is one of dozens on the list of small airport towers scheduled to close this summer because of federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob has been outspoken about her dissatisfaction with the plan. She and supporters of keeping the airport towers open say closing them would affect San Diego's backcountry negatively, especially during the upcoming fire season.