The Federal Aviation Administration was slammed with a $637 million budget cut as part of the sequestration, which went into effect earlier this year. As a result, all 47,000 of the agency’s employees will be subjected to furloughs, and as many as 149 federally-contracted air traffic control towers will lose funding beginning on June 15.
That is, unless a measure to allow the Transportation Department more budget flexibility passes through the House of Representatives.
A bill to that effect was approved late on Thursday by the Senate. The legislation would allow the FAA — which under the umbrella of the Transportation Department — to redirect up to $253 million from other areas of its budget to plug gaps in staffing and operations funding. Ostensibly, this would curb the need to furlough 10 percent of its workforce every day.
“This has been a complex process and we need to get this right,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement at the beginning of April. The FAA employs nearly 15,000 air-traffic controllers, all of which will lose one work day every other week. Unsurprisingly, with fewer people to manage air traffic, long delays at the nation’s top airports are expected.
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