WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 includes $140 million to fund 149 federal contract air traffic control towers across the nation, including five in Maryland, two of which are here on the Eastern Shore.
The legislation is currently under consideration in the House of Representatives. The Senate is expected to take it up later this week.
Locally, the spending bill would fund – and thereby keep open – control towers at both the Salisbury-Ocean City-Wicomico Regional Airport and at the Easton-Newnam Field Airport.
"This bill is good news for federal contract air traffic control towers and the communities and jobs that rely on them," Senator Mikulski said. "In recent years, these contract towers and their communities have faced shutdown, furloughs and uncertainty. They're in communities like Easton. And the Frederick Municipal Airport that the President uses periodically for coming to Camp David. And also Hagerstown, Martin State, and one serving Salisbury and Ocean City. I will keep fighting to ensure the continued operation of our regional airports, making our nation safer and our economy stronger."
Last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced plans to close 149 federal air traffic control towers across the nation due to sequester. In April of last year, Congress passed legislation giving the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flexibility to shift funding to prevent furloughs of air traffic controllers and keep the air traffic control contract towers open. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 includes bill language that protects the program against any future cuts giving these Maryland airport and communities certainty. Under a year-long continuing resolution, the contract tower program would not be protected.
Throughout the last year, Senator Mikulski and Maryland's Congressional delegation have fought for Maryland's regional airports, which play a key role in maintaining Maryland's robust economy.