Congress Approves Bill to End Airport Delays
By AP/WestKyStar Staff
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congress has easily approved legislation ending furloughs of air traffic controllers that have delayed hundreds of flights daily.
The House approved the measure Friday on a 361-41 vote, one day after the Senate agreed to the bill. The action came with lawmakers streaming toward the doors for a week-long spring recess.
The Federal Aviation Administration has furloughed the controllers as part of the government-wide, $85 billion spending cuts called the sequester.
Republicans are accusing the Obama administration of using the controller furloughs to put political pressure on Congress to roll back all the cuts. Airline delays have infuriated travelers and caused headaches for lawmakers.
Democrats largely went along with the bill but said all the cuts should be lifted.
Richard Roof, General Manager of Barkley Regional Airport, said on Friday that he's disappointed.
"Unfortunately, neither bill contained any assurances mandating that FAA continue operation of the contract towers. And the other problem was that the money was taken out of a trust fund designed for airport improvement grants. The good side is that FAA controllers are now back fully staffed, so that the delays that have been experienced since last Sunday should now be minimized."
Barkley Regional Airport is itself a contract tower. That means the FAA has determined it's more economically viable to allow lower-activity airports, such as Barkley, to operate under contract rather than to fund the operation soley by itself.