CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Friday, April 26, 2013, the House will consider H.R. 1765, the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 under a suspension of the rules. The legislation was introduced on April 26, 2013 by Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), and is the companion to S. 853, the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013, which was introduced and passed the Senate on April 25, 2013 by unanimous consent.
H.R. 1765 allows the Secretary of Transportation to transfer $253 million from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program account to the FAA’s Operations account. The transfer authority is necessary to prevent reduced operations and staffing at the FAA during the remainder of fiscal year 2013 and will ensure a safe and effective transportation system. The bill requires the Secretary to notify the House and Senate appropriations Committee prior to the transfer.
On March 1, 2013, the automatic across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequester, went into effect. The sequester is the result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, as amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which requires $85 billion in cuts to federal spending – both mandatory and discretionary – for fiscal year 2013. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is not immune to the sequester and is required to reduce its $15.8 billion budget by approximately five percent.
On Sunday, April 21, 2013, the FAA began its announced policy of furloughing FAA air traffic controllers for one day every ten days. The FAA claimed that such measures were necessary to comply with the sequester. In addition to the furloughs, the FAA claimed that it was necessary to close approximately 149 contract air traffic control towers located across the country and limit late night operations at an additional 72 towers because of increased costs. H.R. 1765 is intended to address both the furlough and contract tower issue.
According to CBO, the bill would not affect budget authority. It would increase outlays by $203 million in 2013. Most, but not all, of that near-term increase would be offset by corresponding reductions in outlays in future years, resulting in net increases in outlays totaling $4 million over the 2013-2018 period and $2 million over the 2013-2023