Senators move to stop flight tower closures

A group of 18 senators is introducing legislation to stop the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from closing nearly 150 air traffic control towers this summer.

The FAA has identified 149 flight control towers at small regional airports it intends to close because of the sequester.

ADVERTISEMENT
The agency had announced that the closures were set to begin on April 7, but the schedule was pushed back until June after sharp criticism from airports and lawmakers who represent districts where the towers are located.

The bipartisan group of lawmakers, which includes Sens. Jerry MoranJerry MoranAt the table: The importance of advocating for ABLE GOP lawmakers lead way in holding town halls Yahoo reveals new details about security MORE (R-Kan.), Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalThis week: Congress returns to government shutdown fight Dem senator rips Sessions’s ‘really bizarre’ Hawaii remark House panel to hold hearing on airline consumer issues MORE (D-Conn.), James InhofeJames InhofeTaiwan deserves to participate in United Nations Optimism rising for infrastructure deal Repeal of Obama drilling rule stalls in the Senate MORE (R-Okla.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharWyden pushing to mandate 'basic cybersecurity' for Senate Senators press the FCC on rural broadband affordability Senators should stop trying to turn the Supreme Court into reality TV MORE (D-Minn.), Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteHow Gorsuch's confirmation shapes the next Supreme Court battle THE MEMO: Trump set to notch needed win with Gorsuch Gorsuch sherpa: Dems giving GOP ‘no choice’ on nuclear option MORE (R-N.H.), and David VitterDavid VitterFormer senator who crafted chemicals law to lobby for chemicals industry Former GOP rep joins K Street lobbying firm Capitol Counsel Lobbying World MORE (R-La.), will hold a press conference Wednesday to announce a bill that would stop the closures permanently.

The measure, dubbed the Protect Our Skies Act, will "protect air traffic control towers and preserve aviation safety across America," the lawmakers said.

The FAA has said it will use the extra time to deal with the pushback on the flight tower closures. The agency said it will also use the time to deal with a series of lawsuits that have been filed to prevent specific towers from being closed.

The decision to delay the closing of the flight towers is not expected to impact the FAA's budget cuts because the agency planned to gradually close the facilities.

The FAA is required by the sequester to cut its budget for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year by $600 million.

Republicans in Congress have accused the FAA of trying to score political points by choosing to make cuts that would have a negative impact on airline passengers.

However, the FAA has argued the sequester mandates it to make equal cuts across its budget. Federal agencies are required to cut about 9 percent of their total 2013 spending under the law.