FAA to suspend furloughs, ease flight delays
WASHINGTON (CNN) — A typo kept President Barack Obama from signing legislation designed to end budget-related FAA air traffic controller furloughs blamed for widespread flight delays, a congressional source told CNN.
But the fix is going into effect anyway, and the system will be back to normal by Sunday, the FAA said.
The holdup was caused by an “s” missing from uses of the word “accounts.” The bill gives the FAA permission to move money from other accounts to prevent having to furlough controllers. But the way the Senate version of the bill read would have limited the source of funds to an “account.”
The House fixed the typo in the version it passed Friday, and the Senate plans to fix it Tuesday, a senior House GOP aide told CNN. The FAA “is not impacted,” the source said.
The FAA issued a statement Saturday, saying that it had suspended all employee furloughs and that “the system will resume normal operations by Sunday evening.”
The story was first reported by ABC News.
In rare bipartisan accord, normally quarrelsome U.S. lawmakers passed the measure Friday, capping a major congressional initiative as delays snarled traffic at airports.
The measure gives the Transportation Department budget planners new flexibility for dealing with forced spending cuts.
It also allows authorities to protect 149 control towers at small- and medium-sized airports that are slated for closure for budgetary reasons.
Since Sunday, more than 3,000 flights had been delayed because of the furloughs, the FAA said. The furloughs were unavoidable, the agency said, because it lacked the flexibility to avert them without action by Congress.
The furloughs affected some 15,000 FAA air traffic controllers.
Cost-cutting measures such as the furloughs and the planned closures of towers that are privately run or overseen by federal aviation regulators have become part of the debate on government spending.
They have been highlighted by many to illustrate a clear nationwide consequence of the $85 billion in government-wide cuts that took effect in March and may otherwise not be apparent to the public.AlertMe