Congress Slaps a Band-Aid on FAA Budget Cuts

On Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration reported that it had “suspended all employee furloughs. Air traffic facilities will begin to return to regular staffing levels over the next 24 hours and the system will resume normal operations by Sunday evening.”

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The FAA 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 would be subjected to furloughs, and as many as 149 federally-contracted air traffic control towers will lose funding beginning on June 15, if not for legislation passed by both houses of Congress last week.

The legislation would allow the FAA — which is 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.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation when it reaches his desk, but a few typos in the bill — perhaps unsurprising given how quickly it was put together — have delayed the process. If all goes well, the President could sign it as early as Monday. However, Obama has made it clear that he views the legislation as just a temporary fix to the larger problems caused by the sequester.

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“Congress passed a temporary fix. A Band-Aid. But these cuts are scheduled to keep falling across other parts of the government that provide vital services for the American people,” Obama said. “And we can’t just keep putting Band-Aids on every cut. It’s not a responsible way to govern. There is only one way to truly fix the sequester: by replacing it before it causes further damage.”

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