Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and Ranking Member John Thune (R-S.D.) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation asking that the agency implement sequestration cuts using lower priority spending rather than close air traffic control towers across the country. The bipartisan letter was also signed by Senate Aviation Subcommittee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), as well as Representatives Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.).
In the letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta, the group said, "We are profoundly disappointed with the decision of the FAA to target 149 FAA contract control towers for closure on June 15. We ask that you identify lower priority spending elsewhere in the FAA's budget for reduction It is deeply troubling that the agency seems intent on proceeding with the closure of key air traffic control assets absent adequate safety data and study."
Rockefeller and Thune will hold a hearing on aviation safety next Tuesday, April 16 at 2:30 p.m., where Administrator Huerta is scheduled to testify. It will examine the consequences of sequestration on the FAA and the agency's efforts to implement safety provisions in recent FAA reauthorizations.
The full text of the letter is available in PDF format below: