Budget includes $140m for contract towers

A federal appropriations bill announced last week includes $140 million to ensure all 149 federally-contracted air traffic control towers threatened by last year’s sequester budget cuts will remain open.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 was introduced by US Senator Barbara Mikulski, who is chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and her Republican House counterpart Hal Rogers.

The House has now passed the overall $1.1 trillion spending bill that contains the appropriations for the towers and is waiting for Senate approval.

“This bill is good news for federal contract air traffic control towers and the communities and jobs that rely on them,” Mikulski said in a statement. “In recent years, these contract towers and their communities have faced shutdown, furloughs and uncertainty.”

The contract tower funding is part of a larger, fully-funded $3.35 billion Airport Improvement Programme in the larger bill. The overall spending plan would ensure the government stays open through fiscal 2014, which ends on September 30.

Last year, the US Department of Transportation had planned to close the 149 of the total 252 contract towers across the country due to the federal sequester. But Congress passed legislation in April giving the Federal Aviation Administration the flexibility to shift funding to prevent furloughs of contract air traffic controllers.

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