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Congress OKs bill to end FAA furloughs of air traffic controllers

April 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Congress has approved a bill to end the Federal Aviation Administration furloughs of air traffic controllers in a move that's expected to end delays for millions of travelers.

The House easily approved the measure Friday on a 361-41 vote. This comes after a late Thursday night vote in the Senate that took place without even a roll call vote.

With this legislation, the Federal Aviation Administration will be able to move up to $253 million to prevent reduced operations and staffing through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.

Not only will these extra funds restore full staffing by air traffic controllers, they will prevent the closure of small airport towers around the country. The FAA had said it will shut the facilities as it makes its share of $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts - known as the sequester - that took effect last month at numerous government agencies.

Congress's approval comes as the FAA said there had been at least 863 flights delays on Wednesday, including at the Los Angeles International Airport, due to staffing reductions resulting from the furloughs.

Officials estimate it would cost slightly more than $200 million to restore air traffic controllers to full staffing, and an additional $50 million to keep open smaller air traffic towers around the country that the FAA has proposed closing.

The bill now needs the president's signature, which White House officials say will come shortly.

While the FAA problem may be solved for now, the sequester problems plaguing other government agencies still remain.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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