Obama expected to sign FAA bill Tuesday

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The FAA announced over the weekend that it suspended the air traffic controller furloughs on Saturday in anticipation of Obama’s signing of the bill, which gives the agency flexibility to shift money around in its budget to avoid cutting workers in flight towers. 

Prior to the passage of the bill, the FAA said that it could not avoid furloughing workers and delaying flights because of the sequester. The agency is required to cut its budget for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year by $600 million.

The FAA instituted a “traffic management” plan in response to the sequester furloughs to manage airline congestion at major airports. The agency reported hundreds of delays each day last week as flights that were otherwise ready to go were held at gates and on runways.

Airlines responded to the delays with a campaign to convince passengers to pressure Washington to exempt the air traffic controllers from the sequester cuts. The industry reported that more than 19,000 people used a website called DontGroundAmerica.com to write letters to the Obama administration and Congress last week. 

The FAA has said that flight service in the United States returned to normal by Sunday.