Congress today easily approved legislation ending furloughs of air traffic controllers that have delayed hundreds of flights daily. The House approved the measure on a 361-41 vote, one day after the Senate unanimously agreed to the bill. The measure doesn't give the FAA more money, but allows it to be more flexible with its mandated sequester cuts. President Obama is expected to sign it into law.
The bill lets the FAA use up to $253 million from airport improvement and other accounts to end the furloughs for the controllers through the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year. Republicans accused the Obama administration of purposely furloughing the controllers to raise public pressure on Congress to lift the spending cuts. Democrats said today that Congress should work on legislation lifting all of the cuts, which they noted have also caused reductions in Head Start pre-school programs, benefits for the long-term unemployed, and medical research. (Read more FAA stories.)