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Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., involved in the discussions, said the issue was big enough so "most people want to find a solution as long as it doesn’t spend any more money."
Officials estimate it would cost slightly more than $200 million to restore air traffic controllers to full staffing, and another $50 million to keep open smaller air traffic towers around the country that the FAA has proposed closing.
Across the Capitol, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said, "We’re willing to look at what the Senate’s going to propose."
He said he believes the FAA has the authority it needs under existing law to shift funds and end the furloughs of air traffic controllers, and any legislation should be "very, very limited" and direct the agency to use the flexibility it already has.
In a reflection of the political undercurrents, another House Republican, Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma, said FAA employees "are being used as pawns by this (Obama) administration to be able to implement the maximum amount of pain on the American people when it does not have to be this way."
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