U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross (FL-15) issued the following statement in support of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) decision to end employee furloughs and keep contract towers open:
"I am pleased that the FAA finally decided to end employee furloughs and keep contract towers open, like the one at Lakeland Linder Airport. I don't understand why they needed Congress to hold their hand to show them other ways to cut costs when they spend $500 million on consultants and $200 million on office supplies and employee travel. Nevertheless, I am thankful that employees won't be furloughed and that air traffic control towers will remain open through the end of this fiscal year. Both employees and the contract towers are important to the safety of everyone involved and benefit local economies all across Florida and the United States.
"Although the FAA has been unresponsive to my repeated requests, I welcome the opportunity to work with the FAA to find a long-term solution."
FAA Statement: "Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that DOT has determined that the recently enacted Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 will allow the FAA to transfer sufficient funds to end employee furloughs and keep the 149 low activity contract towers originally slated for closure in June open for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. The FAA will also put $10 million towards reducing cuts and delays in core NextGen programs and will allocate approximately $11 million to partially restore the support of infrastructure in the national airspace system."
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.
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.
April 26, 2013, Rep. Ross voted to reduce flight delays and keep the control towers open (H.R. 1765).