Sequestration went into effect March 1st, triggering a 5.3 percent cut in non-defense discretionary spending for federal agencies for fiscal year 2013. The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) budget was reduced by $633 million. As a result, the FAA is cutting the Contract Tower Program (CTP) by a disproportionate 75 percent, closing 149 towers nationwide and all eight in Wisconsin. FAA cuts have also led to staff reductions, furloughs and subsequent flight delays.
Today, H.R. 1765, the Reducing Flight Delays Act, passed the House with strong bipartisan support. This bill would allow Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to transfer $253 million from the FAA's Airport Improvement Program account to the FAA's Operations account to prevent reduced operations and staffing at the FAA and ensure a safe and effective transportation system.
Congressman Sensenbrenner: "The FAA claims the negative effects of budget cuts are unavoidable. I disagree. H.R. 1765 would prevent inexcusable delays and protect American jobs. While the bill does not require Secretary LaHood to fund the Contract Tower Program (CTP), it is my hope that he will direct a portion of the transferred funds to the CTP's operational budget. Contract Towers are considerably safer and less expensive than FAA-staffed towers and should not be shut down as a result of sequestration. The Department of Transportation is riddled with waste. There is no reason for the American people to suffer the consequences of Washington's inefficiencies. The FAA should stop playing political games and target excess within the agency."