The House voted 361 – 41 on Friday to advance a Senate-passed bill that would restaff air traffic control towers and avert furloughs caused by automatic budget cuts known as sequestration enacted by Congress and President Barack Obama earlier this year.
Pressured by growing flight delays at many of the nation’s major airports, the Senate voted unanimously Thursday night to advance the legislation in order to “prevent reduced operations and staffing” at the Federal Aviation Administration by rerouting funds from other agency programs. Senate leaders created a mechanism that would automatically send the bill to the president’s desk should it pass unchanged in the House.
“The president would sign this if it’s passed and it would be good news,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters prior to the vote.
Top House Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), rose in opposition to the bill arguing that it unfairly left in place budget cuts across all other domestic and defense programs, but their words failed to convince many of their Democratic colleagues.
“We ought not to be mitigating the sequester’s effect on just one segment, when children, the sick, our military and many other groups who will be impacted by this irresponsible policy are left unhelped,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD).