US President Barack Obama signed into law today a bill to end air traffic controller furloughs, days after the bill cleared the US Congress.
The bill was passed by the US House of Representatives on 26 April after clearing the Senate on 25 April. Obama was to sign the bill earlier but a typo delayed this to today, say reports.
The bill will allow the transfer of up to $253 million from the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) airport improvement grants' surplus funds to restore staffing levels at the FAA, which were reduced through employee furloughs from 21 April. The furloughs, part of a broader move to reduce the government budget, led to fewer air traffic controllers on duty and flight delays across the USA in the days following the implementation.
The FAA said on 27 April it would return to full staffing levels within 24h in anticipation of the bill being signed into law.
While Obama signed the bill, he has said that the move to end FAA furloughs now will not solve the overall problem of the US budget deficit. "Essentially what we've done is we've said, in order to avoid delays this summer, we're going to ensure delays for the next two or three decades," he said at a news conference on 30 April.
However, he said that vetoing the bill would not be the solution either. "It just means that there would be pain now, which they would try to blame on me, as opposed to pain five years from now. But either way, the problem is not getting fixed."