Congress approved a plan today to ease the burden on airline travelers. The Senate unanimously voted for the plan late Thursday and the House of Representatives approved it Friday by a 361-41 vote. White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama intends to sign the bill. The legislation will give the Department of Transportation flexibility to use about $250 million in unspent funds to cover immediate salaries of air traffic controllers and other essential employees at the Federal Aviation Administration who had been furloughed.
Airport Manager David Allen noted, "It’s a good thing, but it’s not the whole thing it has solved the immediate need which was to avoid the delays that would be caused on a daily basis by the federal air traffic controller furloughs."
The bill was passed quickly and this reportedly occurred to ease the delays that have caused complaints at airports across the nation. The bill will help with a national problem, however according to Pocatello airport Manager David Allen, we won’t see large changes locally.
Allen continued, "It hasn’t addressed the 149 contract towers like ours and Hailey and Lewiston and Idaho falls that are scheduled to be closed on June 15 unless they are locally funded, is the other option."
The fix is not a long term solution to the problem. Air traffic controllers potentially could find themselves back on furlough sometime after October 1, when a new round of automatic spending cuts is scheduled. One traveler that I spoke to said the government should spend money more wisely
One traveler viewed congress as the problem when he said that, "The problem is that congress needs to learn how to spend money more wisely than foolishly so that we have money left over for the things that we need to get done in our lives."
National airport delays and the accompanying long waits in security have caused issues elsewhere, but one frequent traveler that I spoke to hasn’t had any problems.
Traveler Diane Baggs noted that, "I’ve been fortunate and I flew in on Monday and I’m flying out today and I haven’t had any experience with any delays at this point."
We will be keeping an eye on this story as it continues to develop.