U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross (FL-15) voted in support of H.R. 1765, the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013. This bill would allow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to transfer $253 million in FY2013 to air traffic controller salaries and expenses, thus ending the necessity for further furloughs of controllers through the end of the fiscal year. It also allows the head of the FAA to restore the FAA contract towers that were cut as part of the effort to reduce controller furloughs, like the one at Lakeland Linder Airport. An effort to include more robust language regarding restoration of contract towers was rejected in the Senate last night. The funds will come from the Airport Improvement Program grants. H.R. 1765 passed the House 361 to 41.
"Today, we voted to reinforce what was already true -- the administration has some ability to control the cuts demanded by the sequester," said Ross. "To this end, I have no idea why the FAA had been choosing to furlough employees and completely cut contract towers like the one at Lakeland Linder Airport. While this might have been the quickest solution, it certainly wasn't the wisest, as it caused financial hardship for families and businesses, safety concerns for air travel, and flight delays for thousands of Americans. This bill reminds the FAA that the choice is theirs and also expands their ability to administer new, wise cuts ensuring safety and providing relief for everyone across Florida and the whole United States."
-This bill will provide funding through Fiscal Year 2013, which ends September 30, 2013.
*Secretary LaHood announced February 22, 2013 that the Department of Transportation will close more than 100 of its air traffic control facilities in April if sequestration took effect. Lakeland Linder Regional Airport's Air Traffic Control Tower is operated under the FAA's Federal Contract Tower Program.
*Ross voted against the bill that enacted sequestration. Once it was enacted, he voted twice to replace the sequester with responsible cuts and also introduced a bill (H.R. 239) that would change how the federal government spends the people's money.
*The sequester (across-the-board cuts) was enacted starting March 1, 2013.
*On March 22, the FAA announced that the Lakeland Linder Airport's control tower will be closed.
*April 5, 2013, the FAA announced that they will postpone all contract tower closings until June 15.
*April 12, 2013, Rep. Ross co-sponsored legislation that would restore funding to all 149 contractor-operated air traffic control towers that have been slated to lose their funding.