AOPA praised Congress April 26 for passing legislation that would give the FAA the flexibility to make more measured decisions about spending cuts, including staffing and contract towers.
“Through their strong support for this measure, both the House and Senate have made it clear that the safety and efficiency of our aviation system is a priority,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “All of us who fly are grateful for their efforts.”
The Senate passed its measure unanimously on April 25, with the House approving its bill by a vote of 361 to 41 on April 26.
The legislation allows the Department of Transportation to move $253 million to the FAA’s operations account. The agency can then use the money to stop furloughs and potentially keep open many of the 149 air traffic control towers slated for closure.
“We hope the FAA will use the flexibility granted by Congress to rationally address the needs of our national air transportation system, and that means keeping controllers on the job and continuing to operate contract towers where they are needed for safety and efficiency,” Fuller said, noting that the added flexibility could also reduce the threat of locally imposed user fees intended to make up for the expected loss of federal funding.
“But even as we celebrate this bipartisan effort, we need to remember that this is only a short-term solution unless action is taken to end the sequester,” he warned.
Under sequestration another round of automatic, across-the-board budget cuts is set to take effect on Oct. 1, the start of the next fiscal year.