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Senate Dems And The Obama Administration Had Ability to Stop FAA Furloughs, But Did Nothing


Statement From RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry:

“Instead of reducing costs and waste elsewhere in their budget, the FAA is instituting a furlough of air traffic controllers that is dangerous and completely unnecessary. Instead of providing leadership and prioritizing federal spending, the Obama Administration is now using the sequester to play politics with air travelers and the airline industry, hurting families and workers across our state. That’s why I’m proud to have a Governor like Rick Scott, willing to take Obama to task for negatively impacting Florida.”


Senate Republicans Had Solutions To Avoid Irresponsible FAA Cuts …


Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) Wanted To Reduce FAA Slush Fund To Protect Control Towers From Closing As Result Of Sequester.

“As part of the White House’s Operation Wreak Havoc response to the sequester spending cuts, the Department of Transportation warned last week that 149 control towers at small, regional airports will close down … Many of the service cutbacks could have been easily avoided by a budget amendment last week sponsored by Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas. He proposed replacing $50 million of FAA sequester cuts with savings from unspent balances, which are a kind of agency slush fund, and by reducing other low-priority spending. Great idea.” (Review & Outlook, “The Senate After Dark,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/25/2013)

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) Introduced Legislation To Prevent Air Traffic Control And Other Furloughs From Sequester.

“This afternoon, Senate Democrats blocked U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s (Mo.) attempt to introduce an amendment today to protect American jobs and public safety by ensuring “essential” federal employees continue to provide vital services in the wake of sequestration. Blunt’s amendment would apply the same standards used during occurrences of inclement weather or other government shutdowns to the sequestration cuts to each agency, which would protect food inspections, control tower operations, and border security.” (Press Release, “Senator Blunt’s Statement On CR Amendments,” Senator Roy Blunt, 3/18/2013)

… But Senate Dem Leader Reid Blocked These Measures To Score Political Points.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Blocked Moran’s Proposal From Even Getting A Vote.

“How did the vote turn out? There wasn’t one. Majority Leader Reid blocked the amendment from ever getting to the Senate floor. Mr. Moran believes that public safety is compromised by these control-tower cuts, and he calls the Reid gambit ‘a very dangerous way to try to score political points.’” (Review & Outlook, “The Senate After Dark,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/25/2013)

Senate Democrats Continue To Block Senate GOP Measures To Prevent Furloughs.

“This week the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began furloughing each of its air-traffic controllers for one day out of every 10 to achieve roughly $600 million in savings this fiscal year … In case there’s any doubt about the President’s ability to prioritize, at least two GOP Senators, Jerry Moran and Roy Blunt, have written bills to clarify Mr. Obama’s authority to make sensible spending decisions. He’s not interested, and Senate Democrats have blocked such reforms. Making smart choices about federal sending would spoil the fun of creating flight delays and then blaming Republicans.” (Review & Outlook, “Flight Delays As Political Strategy,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/22/2013)

Obama Administration Has The Ability To Make Other Cost Cuts At FAA …


Airline Industry, Pilots Say FAA’s Furloughs Are “Unnecessary And Reckless,” Can Make Other Cuts And “Deem Air Traffic Controllers ‘Essential Employees.’”

“Airlines are encouraging their passengers to blame Congress for flight delays as sequester furloughs begin … The website was created by Airlines for America (A4A) and the Air Line Pilots Associations (ALPA) to pressure Congress to roll back furloughs for air traffic controllers … ‘The FAA’s unnecessary and reckless action will disrupt air travel for millions of Americans, cost jobs and threatens to ground the U.S. economy to a halt. It doesn’t have to be that way. The FAA can make other cost cuts, and deem air traffic controllers “essential employees,”‘ the site states.” (Keith Laing, “Airlines Direct Their Passengers To Blame Sequester For Long Flight Delays,” The Hill, 4/22/2013)

FAA Administration Said His Agency “Has Some Discretion To Prioritize” Cuts, But Transportation Department Claims There Is No More Flexibility.

“FAA head Michael Huerta likes to talk about the “difficult choices” he’s making to satisfy the federal sequester’s modest spending restraints. At least that’s what he says when he’s not claiming that the furloughs of air-traffic controllers are unavoidable. Well, which is it? Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is also portraying flight delays as the inevitable result of federal spending limits. Last week at a Senate hearing Mr. Huerta acknowledged under questioning that, in fact, his agency does have some discretion to prioritize and move funds to higher priorities from lower ones. But DOT claims it has already used this flexibility and still can’t avoid cuts to air-traffic control.” (Review & Outlook, “Flight Delays As Political Strategy,” The Wall Street Journall, 4/22/2013)

… Instead, Obama Playing Politics, Inflicting As Much Pain As Possible With Sequester.


White House Caught Between “Highlighting The Pain Of The Sequester” And Not Being Blamed For It.

“White House spokesman Jay Carney countered that furloughs were inevitable because 71 percent of the FAA’s budget comes from personnel … The White House has been caught between its desire to create momentum for a solution by highlighting the pain of the sequester and trying to avoid blame for unpopular cuts.” (Rachel Weiner, “Republicans Blame White House For Flight Delays,”The Washington Post, 4/23/2013)

FAA Furloughs Could Be “White House Ploy To Dramatize The Effects Of Sequestration.”

“As TV crews panned across anxious and angry passengers in New York terminals, the debate revived in Washington over whether the controller furloughs announced last week were necessary or a White House ploy to dramatize the effects of sequestration … After the furlough plan was presented last week, House Republicans insisted that FAA cuts should be made elsewhere and the airlines went to court in an attempt to block them. The Obama administration brushed off suggestions that air travel had become ‘a political football,’ but crowds of delayed passengers undoubtedly made better television than announcements that federal office workers would have to take unpaid days off.” (Ashley Halsey III and Luz Lazo, “Flights Are Delayed At Major East Coast Airports As Sequester-Related Furloughs Begin,”The Washington Post, 4/22/2013)