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Thompson Statement on Passage of Reducing Flight Delays Act

Press Release

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Representative Glenn "GT' Thompson released the following statement after the U.S. House passed H.R. 1765, the Reducing Flight Delays Act, which would provide the U.S. Transportation Department with additional authority to prevent reduced operations and staffing at the Federal Aviation Administration. The measure, which was approved by the Senate yesterday evening, passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 361-41.

"It's unfortunate that the Administration decided to play politics and ignore its responsibility to reprioritize spending and avoid furloughs of air traffic controllers. The legislation passed today, reaffirms my commitment to keeping our skies safe and will hold the White House accountable for its actions that ignore the needs of our economy and the safety of the traveling public."

ICYMI:

Detroit News (4/23/13): Obama's Flight Delay Strategy: "Legal opinions written by solicitors general who served the Clinton and Dubya Bush administrations argued that the current administration has more leeway than it admits. The FAA should be able to pick and choose how to reduce spending within the air traffic organization activity so as to minimize the adverse effects of sequestration on the FAA's core mission priorities, wrote ex-Clinton counsel Seth Waxman. Ben Hirst, Delta's general counsel, cited the bipartisan memos as evidence the FAA does not need to resort to furloughs to meet the requirements of sequestration..."

Wall Street Journal (4/23/13): The 4% FAA spending cut that somehow delays 40% of flights: "The White House claims the sequester applies to the budget category known as "projects, programs and activities" and thus it lacks flexibility. Not so: This is a political pose to make the sequester more disruptive. Legally speaking, the sequester applies at a more general level known as "accounts."...The White House could keep the controllers on duty simply by allocating more furlough days to these other non-essential workers. Instead, the FAA is even imposing the controller furlough on every airport equally, not prioritizing among the largest and busiest airports…"

Bloomberg Government (4/25/13): FAA Has Room for Furloughs Without Flight Delays: "The Federal Aviation Administration has more than enough air traffic controllers to manage furloughs without flight delays, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis of the agency's staffing data. The FAA, with the consent of the controllers' union, could keep sequestration from affecting flights by targeting furloughs at airports with excess numbers of controllers, but the agency has declined to pursue that strategy…"

Wall Street Journal (4/22/13): Flight Delays as Political Strategy: "The White House dubiously claims that the furloughs are required by the sequester spending cuts enacted in 2011…House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster suggests the FAA first take a whack at the $500 million it's spending on consultants, or perhaps the $325 million it blows on supplies and travel…So this week the FAA has managed to turn the first stages of a 5% budget cut into hours of delays at the nation's airports. The furloughs are landing on air-traffic controllers as much as they are on less vital FAA jobs. Officials at the Department of Transportation, the FAA's parent bureaucracy, say it would be bad for morale to impose heavier furloughs on the employees who don't direct airplanes. DOT has also ruled out any reductions in the FAA workforce to achieve the needed savings, along with most other obvious options that a private business would explore…"

The Patriot News (4/24/13): Areas Sen. Pat Toomey says can be cut to offset FAA costs: "Speaking on the Senate floor during the sequestration budget cuts and furlough debate, Toomey noted that the FAA spends $540 million dollars on consultants…Billions of dollars in grants for airport improvement, Toomey said, were likely not as important as staffing air traffic controllers…Toomey accused the administration of "willfully choosing to make cuts in the most disruptive way because they have so much invested in this idea that we can't cut any spending and because they predicted such dire consequences and such disaster that they can't very well allow reasonable and manageable cuts to take place…"


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