Senate passes bill to ease FAA furloughs
Washington • With flight delays mounting, the Senate approved hurry-up legislation Thursday night to end air traffic controller furloughs blamed for inconveniencing large numbers of travelers.
A House vote on the measure was expected as early as Friday, with lawmakers eager to embark on a weeklong vacation.
Under the legislation, the Federal Aviation Administration would gain authority to transfer up to $253 million from accounts that are flush into other programs, to "prevent reduced operations and staffing" through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.
In addition to restoring full staffing by controllers, Senate officials said the available funds should be ample enough to prevent the closure of small airport towers around the country. The FAA has said it will shut the facilities as it makes its share of $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts that took effect last month at numerous government agencies.
The Senate acted as the FAA said there had been at least 863 flights delayed on Wednesday.
Recess appointment ruling is appealed
Washington • The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision that found the president's recess appointments to a labor agency unconstitutional.
The government argues that the decision undermines a key presidential power that has been used for more than a century to appoint hundreds of government officials while the Senate is out of town.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in January that President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he bypassed the Senate to fill three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board. Since then, Republicans have claimed the board lacks any legitimacy to act.
The case is unlikely to be argued before the court begins its new term in October.