Traverse City Record-Eagle


October 10, 2013

House votes to restore FAA funding

TRAVERSE CITY -- Republicans in the U.S. House made an overture to repeal cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration during the partial government shutdown, but it's likely to do little or nothing to alleviate problems at Cherry Capital Airport.

A Republican-backed bill would allow the FAA to continue operations as usual, even while most of the federal government is shutdown, thanks to political gridlock in Washington over the Affordable Care Act.

But the vote largely is viewed as a gesture in Washington, where such mini-spending bills that restore individual entities are gaining little traction in the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House. Democrats instead urge Congress to focus on ending the shutdown instead of refunding segments of the government piecemeal.

That's why locals have tempered their expectations for Cherry Capital Airport.

"I'm excited that the bills have passed the House," said Traverse City's airport director Kevin Klein. "However, most of the other spending bills for specific purposes the Senate has not taken up, and I have a feeling that may be the same with this particular bill."

Effects of the shutdown were on display last weekend, when 55 flights out of Cherry Capital Airport were canceled because the people needed to restore landing equipment necessary during bad weather were furloughed.

“Reliable air travel is critically important to our Northern Michigan’s economy,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, a Republican who represents northern Michigan. "Frankly, I want to the see the Senate do its job and pass this bill to protect our airports. Shouldn’t this plan at least get a vote over in the Senate? As soon as the Senate takes some action this bill could be on its way to the President’s desk.”

But Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, opposes piecemeal funding and urged Republicans to reopen the entire government.

"There are many, many issues like (FAA funding) that are really disrupting people's lives, and that’s why we need to get the government reopened quickly," said Levin spokesperson Tara Andringa.

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