Congress approves bill to end furloughs of air traffic controllers, ending airport delays

Udall-sponsored measure passes 361-41 vote

DENVER - Congress has easily approved legislation ending furloughs of air traffic controllers that have delayed hundreds of flights daily.

The House approved the measure Friday on a 361-41 vote, one day after the Senate agreed to the bill. The action came with lawmakers streaming toward the doors for a week-long spring recess.

The Federal Aviation Administration has furloughed the controllers as part of the government-wide, $85 billion spending cuts called the sequester.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall helped craft the bipartisan proposal and said it will "restore common sense to the FAA."

"We just had a really big win here in Washington for travelers all across our country...and equally importantly for our economy," Udall, a Colorado Democrat, said. "The automatic budget cuts, which are known as sequestration, have left many of our businesses and travelers languishing in long lines at our nation's airports." 

"Look, we need to reduce the federal budget deficit and cut federal spending, but we should not allow the blunt cuts of sequestration to cripple travel, tourism, business and commerce -- all of which are critical parts of our ongoing economic recovery," Udall added. "This deal gives the flexibility the FAA needs to keep our airports running smoothly, the economy humming and flights on time."

Republicans are accusing the Obama administration of using the controller furloughs to put political pressure on Congress to roll back all the cuts. Airline delays have infuriated travelers and caused headaches for lawmakers.

Democrats largely went along with the bill but said all the cuts should be lifted.