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FAA layoffs may be halted

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 7:39 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Under growing pressure, the Obama administration signaled on Wednesday that it might accept legislation eliminating Federal Aviation Administration furloughs — blamed for lengthy delays affecting airline passengers — but leaving the remainder of $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts in place.

Sen. Pat Toomey of Lehigh County has been one of the Republicans pressuring the White House. Members of the administration “back themselves into a bad position, where what they should have done is said: ‘Let's work with Congress.' ”

Sentiment has grown among Senate Democrats for legislation to ease the impact of FAA cuts.

“I think there was a meeting of the minds” on steps to remedy the situation, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said after key senators held a meeting Wednesday with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“There are too many delays, and common ... citizens are being affected,” LaHood said.

According to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, 5,800 flights were delayed nationwide for the three-day period beginning Sunday, when the furloughs took effect. Some were caused by weather. The union said that compares with 2,500 delays for the same period a year ago.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said if Congress “wants to address specifically the problems caused by the sequester with the FAA, we would be open to looking at that. But that would be a Band-Aid measure.”

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