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House passes fix for FAA furloughs

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The House overwhelmingly passed a bill on Friday to give the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flexibility to defray spending cuts from its budget as part of the sequester, allowing the agency to restore furloughed air traffic controllers whose absences had spurred nationwide flight delays.

The House moved quickly late Friday morning to follow the lead of the Senate, which unanimously approved legislation late Thursday evening to give the secretary of transportation increased authority to transfer funds from its existing budget to restore furloughed air traffic controllers.

The legislation heads to the White House next for President Barack Obama's signature. White House press secretary Jay Carney said at his press briefing on Friday that Obama would sign the legislation.

Though some House Democrats griped on Friday that the air traffic controller furloughs should provide the impetus for Congress to address all of the cuts prescribed by the sequester, the House easily cleared the two-thirds procedural threshold it needed to approve the FAA patch. 

The sequester, a series of $85 billion in automatic spending cuts applied across all government agencies, started on March 1. It was an outgrowth of the 2011 agreement between Congress and the Obama administration to raise the debt ceiling, and only took effect because of their subsequent inability to reach an alternative fiscal agreement.

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