...Senators Join The Fray...

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Now, Senators Hilary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer have jumped into the fray, writing a letter to the FAA pointing out that the agency has pledged to cut flights if it can't properly staff its control facilities. "It is imperative that our air traffic control facilities are adequately staffed," Clinton said in a statement released Wednesday. They claim the new overtime policy has not only increased errors, but "congested frequencies," and suspended training. In Chicago, the FAA wants to extend "voluntary" limits on the numbers of flights at peak times at O'Hare. In a release last week, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said delays have been reduced and on-time performance significantly increased since volume was capped at 88 flights per hour during peak periods at the country's second-busiest airport last October. The deal was supposed to expire April 30 but Mineta is proposing it be extended by six months. In the meantime, the FAA is working on formal rules to deal with congestion at O'Hare.