The U.S. Senate passed a bill Thursday night to eliminate furloughs to air traffic controllers. Today, the House also passed the bill, which now goes on to the president for his signature. The furloughs caused thousands of flight delays—with some reaching three hours—and public outcry is significant.
The U.S. Department of Transportation will be able to shift $253 million into the Federal Aviation Administration's operations account if President Obama signs the bill into law (which he has indicated he will do). The fix is temporary, though, as new cuts would go into effect Oct. 1. The bill was written and passed in one day and many senators approved of the bill remotely, as they headed to airports to leave for a weeklong recess.
“Tonight we worked together in the Senate to avoid total gridlock in our aviation system and avert the real harm that rampant delays would cause to our economy and jobs,” said [Senate] Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). “This does not fix all of the problems the FAA faces because of budget cuts, especially for contract towers in rural communities. And it does nothing for other essential government operations and employees that also desperately need relief. But it's a start, and I'm committed to keep working on more solutions.”
The White House issued similar remarks:
"It will be good news for America's traveling public if Congress spares them these unnecessary delays,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement late Thursday. "But ultimately, this is no more than a temporary Band-Aid that fails to address the overarching threat to our economy posed by the sequester's mindless across the board cuts."
Working families are calling on Congress to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from benefit cuts (i.e., raising the retirement age and the "chained" CPI), repeal the sequester and close tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthiest 2%.