Friday, August 29, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Bill to end airport delays headed for House vote

By
From page A2 | April 26, 2013 |

WASHINGTON (AP) — Legislation to end furloughs of air traffic controllers and delays for millions of travelers is headed to a House vote after a dark-of-night vote in the Senate that took place after most lawmakers had left the Capitol for a weeklong vacation.

The bill passed late Thursday without even a roll call vote, and House officials indicated it likely would be brought up for quick approval there.

Under the legislation, the Federal Aviation Administration would gain authority to transfer up to $253 million from accounts that are flush into other programs, to “prevent reduced operations and staffing” through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.

In addition to restoring full staffing by controllers, Senate officials said the available funds should be ample enough to prevent the closure of small airport towers around the country. The FAA has said it will shut the facilities as it makes its share of $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts — known as the sequester — that took effect last month at numerous government agencies.

The Senate acted as the FAA said there had been at least 863 flights delayed on Wednesday “attributable to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough.”

Administration officials participated in the negotiations that led to the deal and evidently registered no objections.

After the vote, White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “It will be good news for America’s traveling public if Congress spares them these unnecessary delays. But ultimately, this is no more than a temporary Band-Aid that fails to address the overarching threat to our economy posed by the sequester’s mindless, across-the-board cuts.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a key participant in the talks, said the legislation would “prevent what otherwise would have been intolerable delays in the air travel system, inconveniencing travelers and hurting the economy.”

Senate approval followed several hours of pressure-filled, closed-door negotiations, and came after most senators had departed the Capitol on the assumption that the talks had fallen short.

Officials said a small group of senators insisted on a last-ditch effort at an agreement before Congress adjourned for a vacation that could have become politically problematic if the flight delays continued.

“I want to do it right now. There are other senators you’d have to ask what the hang-up is,” Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said at a point when it appeared no compromise would emerge.

For the White House and Senate Democrats, the discussions on legislation relating to one relatively small slice of the $85 billion in spending cuts marked a shift in position in a long-running struggle with Republicans over budget issues. Similarly, the turn of events marked at least modest vindication of a decision by the House GOP last winter to finesse some budget struggles in order to focus public attention on the across-the-board cuts in hopes they would gain leverage over President Barack Obama.

The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, a union that represents FAA employees, reported a number of incidents it said were due to the furloughs.

In one case, it said several flights headed for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York were diverted on Wednesday when a piece of equipment failed. “While the policy for this equipment is immediate restoral, due to sequestration and furloughs it was changed to next-day restoral,” the union said.

It added it was “learning of additional impacts nationwide, including open watches, increased restoration times, delays resulting from insufficient funding for parts and equipment, modernization delays, missed or deferred preventative maintenance, and reduced redundancy.”

The airlines, too, were pressing Congress to restore the FAA to full staffing.

In an interview Wednesday, Robert Isom, chief operations officer of US Airways, likened the furloughs to a “wildcat regulatory action.”

He added, “In the airline business, you try to eliminate uncertainty. Some factors you can’t control, like weather. It (the FAA issue) is worse than the weather.”

In a shift, first the White House and then senior Democratic lawmakers have signaled a willingness in the past two days to support legislation that alleviates the budget crunch at the FAA, while leaving the balance of the $85 billion to remain in effect.

Obama favors a comprehensive agreement that replaces the entire $85 billion in across-the-board cuts as part of a broader deficit-reduction deal that includes higher taxes and spending cuts.

One Senate Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, noted that without the type of comprehensive deficit deal that Obama favors, a bill that eases the spending crunch at the FAA would inevitably be followed by other single-issue measures. She listed funding at the National Institutes of Health as one example, and cuts that cause furloughs of civilians who work at military hospitals as a second.

At the same time, Democratic aides said resolve had crumbled under the weight of widespread delays for the traveling public and pressure from the airlines.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., involved in the discussions, said the issue was big enough so “most people want to find a solution as long as it doesn’t spend any more money.”

Officials estimate it would cost slightly more than $200 million to restore air traffic controllers to full staffing, and an additional $50 million to keep open smaller air traffic towers around the country that the FAA has proposed closing.

Across the Capitol, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said, “We’re willing to look at what the Senate’s going to propose.”

He said he believes the FAA has the authority it needs under existing law to shift funds and end the furloughs of air traffic controllers, and any legislation should be “very, very limited” and direct the agency to use the flexibility it already has.

In a reflection of the political undercurrents, another House Republican, Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma, said FAA employees “are being used as pawns by this (Obama) administration to be able to implement the maximum amount of pain on the American people when it does not have to be this way.”

The White House and congressional Democrats vociferously dispute such claims.

————

By David Espo. Associated Press writers Joan Lowy, Henry C. Jackson and Alan Fram in Washington and David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.

Comments

comments

The Associated Press

.

News

Davis Innovation Center team fields questions

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Saving Putah Creek: a quiet concert at sunset

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Winton to be feted for her many years of community work

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Researchers solve mystery of Death Valley’s moving rocks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
California extends review of $25B delta plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Assembly approves statewide ban on plastic bags

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Forum explores local mental health services

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Celebrate the Senior Center at Sept. 9 luncheon

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Equestrian eventing competition slated

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Kids can sign up for a library card and get a free book

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Explorit Science Center: Volunteers supercharge summer camp

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

 
 
Bodega Marine Laboratory hosts open house

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Local group charts a year’s worth of beauty in flowers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Free blood pressure screenings offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Name Droppers: UCD honors two of its own

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

 
Books, conversation and poetry at Logos

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Forum

Let’s sell the MRAP on eBay

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

 
Seeing both sides of ‘tank’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

What if we need MRAP?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

 
How could tank be helpful?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: C2

Don’t sentence our police to death

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C2, 1 Comment

 
Will Davis see river water?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

Travel buddy is getting too fat

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
.

Sports

Forget the score; focus on the energy brought by Aggies

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
Returning seniors, new faces lead promising DHS links squad

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Devil golfers return from Scotland with smiles on their faces

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devils scrimmage with Sac

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B1 | Gallery

UCD-Stanford: the clock is down to counting the minutes

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
Sports briefs: DHS girls fall by the slimmest of net margins

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Wire briefs: Aces cruise past Cats at Raley

By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B6

 
.

Features

.

Arts

‘The November Man’: Who can be trusted?

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
B Street’s ‘The Ladies Foursome’ is aces

By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

.

Business

Technology makes a great car better

By Ali Arsham | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Margarita Elizondo

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Elaine Dracia Greenberg

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics