You see, Congress and the President can get things done…when they want to.
The full title of the bill is “To 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 bill’s purpose: To stop airline flight delays and stop contract tower closures.
Those poor Congressmen, looking at long flight delays, just as they were to head home for their spring recess. These delays impacted not just the general public…but, gulp, them.
So where is the money coming from? The FAA’s Airport Improvement Program. So we are effectively dipping into savings to cover operations, (an act any banker worth their salt will advise against doing.) Hopefully those borrowed funds will be replenished.
Thankfully, and with all due sarcasm, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood must “notify the House and Senate appropriation committee prior” to any transfer of funds from savings to checking. Phew… glad for that check and balance.
Of interest, to me at least, are a few comments from the alphabet groups…
AOPA President Craig Fuller said, “The entire aviation community has worked diligently for this outcome, and we hope that any future spending cuts necessitated by sequestration will be made only after a comprehensive and thoughtful evaluation of their impact on system users.”
NBAA President Ed Bolen noted, “Without the threat of imminent closure, DOT and the FAA will now have the additional time necessary to develop a thorough and informed plan to manage the agency’s priorities under mandatory budget sequestration.”
“Additional time… to plan to manage the agency’s priorities,” strikes me as the right tone. But, Oct. 1, 2013 (the start of the new fiscal year) is but four-and-one-half short months away, so there isn’t a lot of time.
Increased financial flexibility is all well and good, I suppose, but hard decisions, based on thorough analysis and critical thought still have to be made.
With roughly 500 towers around the country, I’d hazard a guess that, even after “a comprehensive and thoughtful evaluation of their impact on system users,” at least one tower should be closed. Cuts, like outlays, have an impact on system users, and we simply aren’t, and shouldn’t, be in a position to be all things for all people.
In April, I asked, “Do we need this control tower?” Congress and the President have answered. Apparently the answer is yes… through Sept. 30.
This isn’t over. Not by a long shot.