Senate Unanimously Passes Bill To End Air Traffic Controller Furloughs Causing Flight Delays

UPDATE: And there we go, folks — as expected, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the furlough fix bill as well in a vote of 361 to 41. Next up, the bill will head to President Obama’s desk for a signature.

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Were you annoyed at flight delays this week caused by sequestration? You’re not alone — the U.S. Senate was so peeved by the lag in the airline industry that last night it unanimously passed a bill aimed at ending the air traffic controller furloughs blamed for the flight problems. Fewer air traffic control staff on duty means fewer flights can take off at a time, and thus, delays abounding.

The Federal Aviation Administration instituted the furloughs after last month’s automatic federal spending cuts went into effect, but fliers have been none too pleased with the widespread flight delays that started this week. It seems the government was listening, as the Senate’s bill flew through and was approved without even getting debated.

According to Reuters, the legislation will give the Department of Transportation some wiggle room to use leftover money in its budget to cover the cost of air traffic controllers and any other staff it needs at the FAA to make flights run smoothly and on time.

The House of Representatives is up next for voting on the bill today, and is expected to pass it as well. If this thing passes, it might also allow the FAA to keep open around 150 “contract towers” at smaller airports that are staffed by non-FAA employees.

While the across-the-board spending cuts have hit most federal agencies, the brouhaha caused by this particular sequestration move has caused a consumer uproar as angry travelers have been left sitting on the ground and waiting. And waiting… and you get the point, it’s annoying.

Backlash in action, folks. From your frustrated tears to the government’s ears.

Senate passes bill to end air traffic control furloughs [Reuters]