LAX airport Reuters 2011
Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. Reuters

UPDATE 12:20 p.m. EDT:The House of Representatives passed the measure allowing the Federal Aviation Administration to prevent furloughs of air traffic controllers.


The House of Representatives will vote on Friday to allow the Federal Aviation Administration to juggle its finances to prevent furloughs of air traffic controllers after the Senate passed the measure in a late-night roll call vote prior to a weeklong break.

The bill, which is expected to receive House approval, will allow the FAA to take up to $253 million from other internal programs that are flush with cash to fund payrolls through Sept. 30, averting concerns of delays in air travel through the summer.

The FAA had said that in addition to furloughs of air traffic controllers, which would lead to long lines of planes waiting for takeoff on runways and cost airlines revenue, control towers in many of the country’s small airports would have faced closure.

The FAA said 863 flight delays on Wednesday alone were attributed to $85 billion across-the-board budget sequestration cuts that went into effect March 1.

Following the Senate vote on Thursday evening, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney characterized the move as “a temporary Band-Aid that fails to address the overarching threat to our economy posed by the sequester’s mindless, across-the-board cuts.”

Republican lawmakers had accused the White House of holding air travelers hostage by not pushing for an exclusion to the across-the-board cuts to avert snarling air traffic.