Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), today joined a bipartisan group of senators led by Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in introducing the Dependable Air Service Act, legislation that would give the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) even more flexibility to transfer funds to address the recently implemented air traffic controller furloughs and the resulting flight delays across the country.
The bill also would give the Department of Transportation (DOT) the authority to move funds from other accounts within its budget to the FAA to prevent delays.
"American travelers and businesses shouldn't have to take the hit for the incompetence and shocking lack of management at the FAA and the DOT," said Coats. "It is inexcusable that the FAA and the DOT failed to plan accordingly and refused to use existing flexibility to minimize the impact on travelers. This legislation will help protect the traveling public by providing the DOT with even more flexibility to prioritize its budget -- something it should have been doing all along."
On April 21, 2013, the FAA began implementing "across the board' furloughs of employees and air traffic controllers. The FAA estimated these cuts will result in as many as 6,700 delays per day, which is more than double the worst travel day in 2012. Although the FAA already has the flexibility to move some of its operational budget without congressional approval, this legislation will make clear to FAA and DOT leaders that they should be finding savings in their existing budget and not furloughing air traffic controllers.
In a speech on the Senate floor earlier today, Coats questioned the decision of the FAA to enact across the board furloughs and cause significant flight delays when the FAA and the DOT did not exhaust all other options and plan accordingly for the sequestration budget reductions.
In addition to Coats, Hoeven and Klobuchar, the bill is cosponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.), and Jim Risch (R-Idaho).
Senator Coats is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.