Today, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) stated that the lack of timely information being shared with Congress and the American people about FAA furloughs is evidence that "there is clearly something wrong at the FAA." Sen. Moran said he will demand answers from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta as to why he was less than forthcoming about the timing of the furloughs at last week's Senate hearings on the topic.
The Obama Administration's announcement that FAA furloughs would begin on Sunday -- and force delays at airports across the country -- came just hours after Sen. Moran questioned Administrator Huerta in last Thursday's Senate Appropriations Subcommittee regarding Transportation hearing on FAA sequestration cuts. Sen. Moran's remarks were made today at the weekly Senate Republican Leadership Press Conference.
Highlights from Sen. Moran's remarks can be found below.
Sen. Moran: "There is clearly something wrong at the FAA. To have an administrator appear before the committee of jurisdiction this past week, to have him appear before the subcommittee that is responsible for his appropriations, and despite the questioning by Senator Collins, not to report what he would then announce the next day, tells me something is totally wrong at the FAA."
"For him to only make this decision known to the airlines and to the traveling public on Friday when the furloughs were to begin on Sunday, tells me something is terribly wrong at the FAA. I think this is a manifestation of what we saw in the ending of the contract tower program. Any business that is faced with slightly less revenues than expected would find a way to solve that problem without inconveniencing their customers. Apparently the mindset at the FAA, the Department of Transportation, and within this Administration is, "let's do things in a way that is most inconveniencing to our customers, the flying public, because that then creates political pressure for a response from Congress.'
"There is no need for this -- the Department has the authority needed to make the decisions necessary to prioritize. In fact, Administrator Huerta, indicated that I asked him, "wouldn't it be smarter to utilize the unobligated balances than to eliminate the contract tower program?' His answer was that he didn't have the authority to do that. I don't think that's true, but my point to the Administrator was, "that's exactly what we attempted to give you, was the authority to do that.' And the Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood indicated that the Administration opposed that amendment, that policy. So again, something is clearly wrong at FAA. And I am going to ask Senator Murray and Senator Collins to ask Mr. Huerta to come back and provide additional information and explanation for the circumstance we now find ourselves needlessly in."