FAA Saved By Congress. Who's Next?

10:10 PM, Apr 28, 2013   |    comments
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Washington, DC - Congress acted quickly over the weekend to prevent flight delays from causing further headaches across the country.

Budget cuts had forced the FAA to furlough air traffic controllers last week, but the FAA announced on Saturday that it had suspended employee furloughs and was returning to normal staffing levels.

Both the Senate and the House approved a bill to allow the Transportation Secretary to move as much as $253 million dollars to help pay air traffic controllers.

Representative Howard Coble told News 2 he was unable to vote due to an appointment in Greensboro, however, he was unsure the vote was even necessary, telling News 2, "It is my belief that, and others share this belief, that the FAA had the ability to transfer the money to begin with."

At this point, it is unclear whether Rep. Coble's claim is true, and Rep. Coble said he would have voted for the bill anyway. 

Eleven of North Carolina's representatives voted for the bill. Rep. Walter Jones, along with Coble, did not vote.

The bill passed the Senate late Thursday without a roll call vote. 

This vote marks the first time Congress has acted to alleviate funding cuts from the sequester since it went in place on March 1 of this year.

The deal could also be a sign that other cuts could soon go by the wayside, according to Jason Husser, Asst. Professor of Political Science at Elon University, and potentially lead to piece by piece legislation that chips away at the spending cuts in place.

Husser told News 2,"This really sets a new precedent for the sequester. It means yes there could be these really broad, heavy-handed cuts like what we saw. But, Congress could also revise and revisit those. If that's the case, the most politically relevant part, the military cuts, those could fade away."

If the full impact of the sequester is felt, North Carolina could see as many as 22,000 civilian military contractors furloughed.

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