Mark Udall welcomed the U.S. House of Representatives' vote today to send his bipartisan deal to end long lines and delays at the nation's airports to the president's desk. The Udall-led deal, which unanimously passed the U.S. Senate earlier this week, gives the U.S. Secretary of Transportation the flexibility to avoid further furloughs of essential employees at the Federal Aviation Administration. The deal, which leaders in the airline and travel industries have said will get our airlines back on schedule and bolster passenger safety, now heads to the White House to be signed into law.
"Colorado's airports are some of the most important economic drivers in our communities. The indiscriminate, automatic budget cuts of sequestration not only threatened the convenience of the traveling public, but also created an unacceptable and avoidable drag on our resurgent economy," Udall said. "Washington-style brinksmanship threatened to cripple travel, tourism, business and commerce. That's why I was proud to rally a bipartisan coalition in the Senate to unchain our airports and restore common sense to the FAA. I am proud the U.S. House of Representatives has joined me in supporting middle-class families and our nation's businesses by sending this important bipartisan solution to the president's desk."
The Reducing Flight Delays Act gives the U.S. Secretary of Transportation the flexibility to transfer funds into the FAA's operations budget to prevent essential employees, such as air traffic controllers, from being furloughed. Additionally, the Secretary must notify the Senate and House Appropriations committees of any proposal to use this reprogramming authority, providing for congressional oversight -- as Udall and Collins proposed more broadly earlier this year. The broader Udall-Collins plan, which Udall is still fighting to pass, would give the executive branch more flexibility in implementing the automatic sequester cuts with appropriate congressional oversight.
Airline industry and business leaders have called the bipartisan Reducing Flight Delays Act, which maintains the cuts associated with sequestration but allows the FAA flexibility to better implement them, a victory for consumers and air safety.
"ALPA supports the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 and thanks Congress for quickly passing this bipartisan solution," said Captain Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International. "Airline pilots, our passengers, the communities we serve and our airlines are thankful for the leadership of Senators Udall and Collins in the Senate passage of this legislation, which ensures going forward that our air traffic control system is not burdened by unnecessary and harmful delays due to FAA staffing shortages."
"We applaud the leadership displayed in the Senate last night when they unanimously passed this very important measure," said Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "Air traffic controllers and the other aviation safety professionals NATCA represents are anxious to return to fully staffed towers and radar facilities to get our system back to maximum efficiency while continuing to put safety first."
"Airlines for America thanks Sen. Udall for his leadership in working to pass common-sense legislation that ensures that America's skies operate efficiently, and reduces costly, needless delays for the two million Americans that fly every day," said Nicholas E. Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America.
"Flight attendants across the nation are encouraged by action in the Senate for a temporary fix to keep our hard-working air traffic controllers on the job full-time," said Veda Shook, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. "When aviation is halted flight attendants feel first hand the impact on our nation's economy. We are in the business of connecting people which supports American business and each of the communities we serve. We applaud Senators Udall and Collins for their bipartisan action to keep transportation moving and we call on every member of Congress to ensure we do not rest with this temporary fix. For the United States to remain the leader in global aviation and innovation, a responsible budget must be passed for the good of the nation."
Udall, a champion for fiscal responsibility and strategically reducing the federal budget deficit, has led efforts in Congress to give the armed forces and the rest of the executive branch the flexibility to strategically implement the automatic, indiscriminate budget cuts commonly called sequestration.
He also has worked across the aisle to eliminate redundant federal programs and pass a line-item veto. Udall also has introduced a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution and worked across the aisle to end wasteful subsidies and earmarks.