The Senate passed a bill on Thursday evening to end air traffic controller furloughs caused by the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester that have been blamed for mounting flight delays across the country.
The passage of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), capped a day of scrambling that saw lawmakers alternate between trying to pass a quick legislative fix for the air traffic controllers’ furloughs and point fingers at each other for the flight delays they caused.
Collins’ bill, which was passed by unanimous consent on Thursday evening, gives the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) more flexibility to keep essential workers on the job.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) all offered legislation that would have addressed the air traffic controller furloughs.
The Gillibrand bill would have provided money to pay for ending the air traffic controllers furloughs by raising taxes on corporate jet owners, making it a likely non-starter with Republicans.
The Klobuchar-Hoeven bill, which was similar to the Collins bill that was eventually approved on Thursday, would have given the Department of Transportation flexibility to make adjustments to its agency budgets that the FAA has insisted it does not currently have.
Senators failed earlier on Thursday evening to add an FAA bill as an amendment to an online tax measure, which advanced as a standalone measure.
Hoeven told The Hill Thursday that he had fought for his bill to be added as an amendment to the online sales tax measure.