Lawmakers cancel FAA furloughs, flee Washington – by air
Air travelers breathed a sigh of relief after Congress passed quick legislation allowing the FAA to cancel furloughs for air traffic controllers. But that's just increased partisan sniping over the sequester and its across-the-board budget cuts.
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In Pictures Stuck in an airport
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But relieving air traffic controllers of their furlough (one day every two weeks) involves more than air travel.
No furloughs for federal meat inspectors (another sequester dispensation) is one thing – most Americans are yet to adopt vegetarianism – but air travel is seen as something benefitting business travelers and others who are better off.
“Unfortunately for millions of Americans who cannot afford to get on a plane, Congress has yet to repeal the disastrous and devastating cuts to important programs for the poor, mothers, children, and many others,” the Center for American Progress Action Fund complained.”
Obama took up the same theme Saturday.
“Because of these reckless cuts, there are parents whose kids just got kicked out of Head Start programs scrambling for a solution,” he said. “There are seniors who depend on programs like Meals on Wheels to live independently looking for help. Here are military communities – families that have already sacrificed enough – coping under new strains. All because of these cuts.”
As for flight delays, waving a legislative wand over the sequester won’t end the problem entirely, of course. On Wednesday, for example, the FAA reported “more than 863 delays in the system … attributable to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough at the New York, Washington, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Los Angeles En Route Centers, the Potomac, Dallas and Southern California TRACONs and Detroit Tower.”
In addition that day, there were more than 2,132 additional delays as a result of weather, maintenance problems, crew scheduling, and other factors.
But as relieved air travelers took note of the FAA’s good news Saturday, and as both parties continued to argue about the sequester, Rep. Shuster said something on which all can agree:
“The American people deserve better, and leaders in Washington have an obligation to respect your time and money.”
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