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Update – U.S. Reps. Heck, Kilmer respond to news of airport tower closures pending in Tumwater and Tacoma

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on March 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm with No Comments »
March 25, 2013 3:04 pm
U.S. Rep. Denny Heck
U.S. Rep. Denny Heck

This has been updated to include Rep. Kilmer’s statement and other changes.

U.S. Rep. Denny Heck pledged again Friday to look for ways to avoid the sequestration budget cuts. The freshman Democrat from Olympia put out a statement following news reports Friday that 149 airport traffic control towers across the country would lose staffing as a result of the across-the-board cuts.

Two towers are either in or near his 10th Congressional District – including at Olympia Regional Airport and at Tacoma Narrows Airport.

Heck’s statement:

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Aviation Administration informed my office this afternoon that the control towers at Olympia Regional Airport and Tacoma Narrows Airport are set to close later this spring. These closures are entirely due to the recent sequestration cuts that Congress failed to replace. This is yet another example of the very real impact that sequestration is beginning to have on the South Puget Sound. I remain committed to replacing sequestration with a balanced approach to debt reduction that won’t harm our local economy or our military readiness. My office is also in contact with the FAA to see if there are any steps that can be taken to prevent the closure of these important components of our regional infrastructure.

CNN  has published a list  of airport towers being closed by the FAA after April 7. Other affected airports in Washington state are in Renton, Yakima and Spokane.

The airport towers are just the latest in cuts affecting the Northwest after the U.S. House and Senate failed to agree on alternative cuts or new revenues by March 1.

 We rounded up some of the sequestration impacts on South Sound here and here.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Gig Harbor Democrat whose 6th district includes Tacoma,  put out this statement Saturday about the tower closures:

“This is yet another example of how Congress should be working day and night to replace these across-the-board cuts as they continue to do harm across our region. The decision to close these air traffic control towers is a direct result of Congress’ inability to come together to find a balanced solution to our budget problems. While we need to find ways to cut spending, these non-strategic cuts are costing jobs we need to keep Americans safe.  I will continue working across-the-aisle until we have a balanced replacement for these cuts and I will push the FAA to reverse these dangerous and unsafe closures.”

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