The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted 361-41 to pass a bill, H.R. 1765, ending the Federal Aviation Administration’s furlough on air traffic controllers. The U.S. Senate passed the law late Thursday night as lawmakers prepared to go home for a week-long vacation.
The bill will now head to the president’s desk for his signature.
The measure will “provide the Secretary of Transportation with the flexibility to transfer certain funds to prevent reduced operations and staffing of the Federal Aviation Administration, and for other purposes.”
The swift passage of the bill in both chambers may finally put rest the politically charged furloughs.
The Obama administration and its allies have worked to blame Republicans for the furloughs while the GOP has accused the Obama administration of purposely furloughing controllers to pressure Congress to replace sequestration.
“The administration has played shameful politics with the sequester at the cost of hard-working American families,” said Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa).
The Obama administration, for its part, has argued that it doesn’t have enough room decide where to apply the budget cuts.
The bill passed on Friday would let the FAA use up to $253 million from airport improvement and other accounts to end the furloughs through the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president would sign the new bill, but he added, “The problem is this is just a Band-Aid solution.”
“In addition to restoring full staffing by controllers, the available funds can be used for other FAA operations,” the Associated Press notes, “including preventing the closure of small airport towers around the country. The FAA had said it would shut the facilities to meet its share of the spending cuts.”
The FAA said there had been at least 863 flights delayed on Wednesday “attributable to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough.”
Administration officials participated in the negotiations that led to the deal and evidently registered no objections.
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The AP contributed to this report. Featured image Getty Images.
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