Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn says FAA has cuts to make before furloughing air traffic controllers

By Chris Casteel

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn called out the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday for threatening to close air traffic control towers and furlough nearly 50,000 employees while the agency is holding conferences and posting job openings for a “community planners” and “program assistants.”

Coburn, R-Muskogee, sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, whose department includes the FAA, suggesting other cuts that could be made to save money and protect the safety of the flying public.

“Before considering cuts to essential services, I would encourage the Administration to first cancel all upcoming conferences, freeze all nonessential hiring, reconsider cuts to private control towers, and reduce funding for several low-priority programs before cutting costs that could impact flight safety,” Coburn said in his letter.

“The approximately $600 million in required savings from the FAA represents less than 4 percent of the FAA’s $15.9 billion budget in fiscal year 2012. I am confident there are numerous options for savings that will not interfere with FAA’s mission.”

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