Congress Agrees to End FAA Furloughs

Elaine Thompson/AP

The House cleared legislation Friday to end furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration by a 361-41 vote after nearly a week of significant flight delays.

The Reducing Flight Delays Act will head back to the Senate -- which already passed the bill Thursday -- for final approval before it heads to President Obama for his signature. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney signaled Obama would sign the measure.

“It will be good news for America's traveling public if Congress spares them these unnecessary delays,” Carney said at a press briefing Thursday. “But ultimately, this is no more than a temporary Band-Aid that fails to address the overarching threat to our economy posed by the sequester's mindless, across-the-board cuts."

Democratic House members echoed that sentiment in floor debate prior to the vote.

“We are considering this bill because passengers were sitting and waiting in airports,” Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., said. “This Congress has done too much sitting and waiting when it comes to sequestration. Instead of sitting and waiting, let’s go to conference and pass a budget.”

On Tuesday, Republican Senators blocked Majority Leader Harry Reid’s attempt to resolve differences between the Republican-backed House budget and Democratic-backed Senate budget through conference.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, ranking member of the House Budget Committee, also called for a conference committee in order to pass a fiscal 2014 budget.

“Obviously, we should end the delays at airports,” Van Hollen said. “But we should be making sure we don’t see the effects of the sequester grind on.”

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, said the FAA bill was proof of the sequester’s potential effectiveness.

“Even though sequestration is painful, it is working,” Farenthold said. “We can now get the cuts to FAA’s budget that are necessary without seeing flight delays. It is my contention we can do that at every agency across government.”

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