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Begich Joins Bipartisan Group of Senators to Stop Airport Delays

Bill Gives DOT Funding Flexibility to Avert Travel Slowdowns                                                                                 

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich joined a bipartisan group of senators today to introduce the Dependable Air Service Act. The legislation would give the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Transportation, in which the FAA resides, the flexibility to transfer funds between accounts in order to halt air traffic controller furloughs and avert mounting passenger delays and flight cancellations at America’s airports.

“In our vast state, Alaskans rely on air travel to get around more than anywhere else. Even though we are only two days into the furloughs, we are already seeing significant delays at hub airports, which in turn affect Alaskans traveling to the Lower 48 as well as economically important cargo links to move goods in and out of the state. This bill provides a critical fix that will allow air traffic controllers to get back to their posts,” said Begich. “The bill requires the FAA to live with the budget Congress has given them, but provide the ability to move funds around to prevent the delays which are crippling our air transportation system.”

The FAA already has authority to move 2 percent of its operational budget without congressional approval, and 5 percent with congressional approval, the senators said. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood has indicated that this flexibility is not sufficient to address the problems, so this legislation provides any additional flexibility he may need by having access to the DOT budget. DOT’s total budget for 2013 is $72 billion, of which $19 billion is discretionary funding.

Cosponsoring the bill are Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Dan Coats (R-Ind.).

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