On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it was closing 149 contract air traffic control towers across the country as a result of across-the-board budget cuts. Air traffic control towers at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport, Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport in Parkersburg, and Greenbrier Valley Airport in Lewisburg, are all slated to close on April 7.
"By cutting air traffic control towers in communities across the country the Obama Administration is recklessly putting millions of Americans at risk to make a political point," said McKinley. "Rather than finding waste and duplication to cut at the FAA, they are disproportionately targeting a program that has a direct impact on safety and hurting local economies in places like Wheeling and Parkersburg."
"It's one thing to cancel White House tours or threaten the cancellation of the White House Easter Egg roll," McKinley added. "It's another to cut a program important to the public safety mission of the FAA. Clearly the Obama Administration is trying to make sequestration cuts as painful as possible to prove a political point."
The 149 contract air traffic control towers are predominantly in rural areas, and more than two-thirds of the towers marked for closure are in Congressional Districts represented by a Republican. With three air traffic control towers closing, West Virginia is impacted even more than larger states like New York (2 closures) and Virginia (1 closure).
"Each year, the FAA spends more than $500 million on consultants and $200 million on employee travel and supplies," said McKinley. "Over the last nine years, the FAA has ignored 555 recommendations from its Inspector General that could save millions of dollars." "Surely the FAA can avoid these closures by finding waste and duplication to cut," said McKinley. "Instead they are playing games with our safety to make a political statement."