WHEELING - Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, has signed on to a measure to keep open the nation's 149 airport towers slated for closure in June.
Among them is the tower at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport, as well as a second in West Virginia in Parkersburg.
The "Air Traffic Control Tower Funding Restoration Act" would restore funding to airport towers eliminated through the "Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013" - the temporary spending bill passed by Congress last month.
The measure would return $50 million to the Federal Aviation Administration's operating budget, setting the funding at $7.44 billion.
To offset the increase, the FAA's facilities and equipment budget would be slashed by $23.9 million; and its research, engineering and development budget by $26.2 million.
"Political decisions like this one can have a devastating effect on communities like Wheeling and Parkersburg," said McKinley. "The Obama Administration is putting millions of Americans at risk to make a political point rather than finding waste and duplication to cut at the FAA ....
"Each year, the FAA spends more than $500 million on consultants and $200 million on employee travel and supplies. Additionally, over the last nine years, the FAA has ignored 555 recommendations from its Inspector General that could save millions of dollars. This is no reason to put the safety of millions of Americans at risk by closing air traffic towers."
HR 1432 was introduced last month by Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
During a chamber of commerce breakfast in Wellsburg on March 28, McKinley spoke of how federal government is paying more attention to urban areas than rural areas.
He also noted that 70 percent of the 149 towers slated for closure were located in rural areas represented in the House by Republicans.