Airport tower cuts still coming

By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal

The continuing resolution approved by Congress will not prevent sequestration budget cuts, including one affecting more than 170 airport traffic control towers nationwide.
Additional funding proposed by U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, would have protected Federal Aviation Administration funding for control towers at small and medium sized airports, including the Tupelo Regional Airport.
However, the Moran amendment was not included in the final version of the continuing resolution that was sent to the House. U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., co-sponsored the amendment.
“The Senate had an opportunity to keep airport control towers open by moving funds from travel and research programs,” Wicker said. “Instead, Democrat leaders chose not to allow the Senate to vote on the proposal. Airports in communities across the country depend on these towers to perform critical safety functions.”
Josh Abramson, executive director of the Tupelo Regional Airport, said the FAA is scheduled to announce today which towers will be denied funding.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said though the continuing resolution that was passed is not ideal, it will help keep the government operating through the current fiscal year.
On Thursday, the House passed a budget for 2014. Though several drafts will likely make their way through both sides of Congress over the next six months, House Republicans set the tone for upcoming debates with a bill that calls for steep spending cuts.
“We passed two bills to replace sequestration, but the President rejected both of them because they did not raise taxes,” said U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss. “I have no doubt he is now implementing the sequester cuts as painfully as possible.However, for the last several years our government has been spending at a rate it cannot sustain. Business as usual is not an option anymore, which is why we passed a budget this week that balances within 10 years, reforms government spending, and does not raise taxes.”
The Senate has begun debating its own version of the budget.
sarah.robinson@journalinc.com