House and Senate vote to stop furloughs for air traffic controllers

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The House and Senate have approved a bill that would keep air traffic controllers from being furloughed through September 30.

The bill would allow the FAA to use up to $253 million from airport improvements and other projects to stop the furloughs.

It’s awaiting the president’s signature.

“The whole thing is frustrating. It’s obviously something that didn’t need to happen that has,” said La Crosse Municipal Airport Manager Clinton Torp.

Torp said while the House and Senate votes are a solution, that doesn’t mean it’s the right one.

He also said even if the bill passes, that doesn’t mean the FAA has to fund air traffic control towers.

“But if the FAA does decide to utilize those funds for eliminating the furloughs that will obviously end the issues with delays, but then there’s the other factor of the contract towers, which more directly affect La Crosse,” said Torp.

The La Crosse Municipal Airport said four air traffic controllers could lose their jobs on June 15.

“If our tower closes, and it’s scheduled to close June 15, there will be impacts with delays with weather, obviously there’s an additional safety layer that the tower provides,” said Torp.

Some people we talked said they support the House’s and Senate’s decision.

“I think it would allocate it in the right spots, so we can actually get more flights in the air,” said Jonathan Hoeflicker.

“I have to go fly in somewhere else further down the road, and have to drive the distance. A lot more expensive that way,” said Clyde Thompson.

Torp said the best case scenario would be for the FAA to fund the towers.

The La Crosse Municipal Airport hasn’t really experienced delays like some larger airports are.

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