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.

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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 MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranMcConnell signaling Trump trial to be quick, if it happens Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Furor over White House readout of Ukraine call | Dems seize on memo in impeachment push | Senate votes to end Trump emergency | Congress gets briefing on Iran Senate again votes to end Trump emergency declaration on border wall MORE (R-Kan.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump declares 'case closed' as text messages raise new questions Top House Democrat: Trump did 'on camera' what Romney warned about MORE (R-Okla.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDeVos calls Democratic presidential hopeful's education plans 'crazy' Senate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' Biden struggles to reverse fall MORE (D-Minn.), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (R-N.H.), and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterLouisiana Republicans score big legislative wins Trump calls on Republicans to vote out Democratic Louisiana governor amid GOP infighting Grocery group hires new top lobbyist 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.