Senate could vote today to relax FAA budget cuts

    11:30 AM, Apr 26, 2013   |    comments
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    WASHINGTON (CBS) -- Washington lawmakers could vote today on a bill to relax FAA budgets cuts and bring air traffic controllers back to full time status. The legislation comes after a week of flight delays around the country.

    The House opened Friday morning ready to take on legislation that could bring an end to the flight delays seen this week. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon says, "This is an abject lesson in how vital these programs are - the nation's airspace ."

    The bill would allow the transportation department to move about $250 million within the agency and put air traffic controllers back on the job full time. Lawmakers believe it will also prevent the closure of smaller airport towers around the country.

    The Senate passed the bill unanimously last night. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says, "This is a common sense solution it doesn't involve additional money it is a onetime shift of unused monies."

    Controller cut backs were a result of the automatic budget cuts Congress allowed to take effect last month. Less staffing in the towers triggered thousands of flight delays that angered passengers.

    Even former Saturday Night Live comedian Joe Piscopo complained about his flight from New Jersey to Colorado. He says, "Oh my God it was awful, I couldn't get out of Newark, I couldn't run out quick enough, I walked here, I walked to Denver."

    If the legislation is approved, airport towers could return to full staffing next week. If the bill passes Congress could consider funding changes for other Federal agencies that were hit with budget cuts.

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