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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

House, Senate Committees Request Details on FAA’s Sequester Plans

Woodrow Bellamy III

Lawmakers are seeking more information about FAA’s spending reduction plans as the March 1st deadline for sequestration nears this week.

House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Ranking Member John Thune (R-S.D.) on Monday sent a joint letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who last week announced FAA would have to implement furloughs on the majority of its 47,000 employees and predicted major air travel delays as a result of the sequester.

“Given the Administration and the Department’s recent statements on a possible sequestration’s effects on the traveling public, it is imperative that the information we have continuously sought be provided as soon as possible,” Shuster and Thune said in the letter.

Unless Congress produces a restructured federal deficit reduction plan, the sequester will enact $85 billion in across-the-board fiscal year 2013 federal spending cuts, including a $600 million hit to FAA’s operating budget described by LaHood last week.

In a statement Monday, Shuster, Thune and House Subcommittee on Aviation Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) said FAA is “well positioned to absorb spending reductions without compromising the safety of the NAS.”

LaHood has said in recent weeks that the agency will still be able to safely manage the nation’s air traffic in a post-sequestration climate. However, he is warning the traveling public to expect massive air travel delays due to a reduction in the volume of commercial flights so that the furloughed air traffic controller workforce can maintain the system.

Although the lawmakers claim that FAA has not provided any of the information it has requested about spending reductions since October, LaHood recently sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) earlier this month detailing the impact of sequestration on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s budget.

In that letter, LaHood specifically stated, “the most serious result of this action would be the immediate impacts on the Federal Aviation Administration.”

Shuster and Thune are requiring LaHood to provide their requested information immediately. More

Related: Lawmakers Downplay Impact of Sequestration on National Airspace System

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