Congress Acts to Ensure Their Smooth Travel

Yesterday, the House passed legislation that would let the government redirect millions of dollars to air traffic controllers’ salaries and expenses in a bid to end sequester-related furloughs that have caused flight delays around the country.

President Obama warned congress in February, that the Sequester would result in layoffs and airport delays. The congress did not seem to consider this fact until they realized the delays at the airports would affect them as they prepared to leave Washington for break; they acted quickly to end the threat to their weekend travel plans.

Members approved the Reducing Flight Delays Act 361-41.

The bill was sent directly to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

The vote is a victory for House Republicans, who had been pushing for a restructuring of the $600 million sequester cut to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to avoid air traffic controller layoffs. In contrast, Democrats were looking for a broader solution to the sequester that included new taxes.

Democratic leaders and other rank-and-file Democrats said they oppose the bill because it only deals with the FAA, and not the other social programs that are also seeing cuts because of the sequester.

Democrats correctly pointed out that the bill fails to address sequester-related cuts to Head Start, Meals on Wheels, federal housing aid, unemployment insurance, food inspections at the Food and Drug Administration and other social programs.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) agreed, and called the bill a Republican “hostage-taking.” She unsuccessfully asked the House to take up a bill terminating the entire sequester.

Just before the vote, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) hailed the Senate vote as a win for Republicans, and said the administration now seems to see the value of cutting less critical programs (school lunches, meal on wheels, head start programs, random layoff of millions).

But the bill only allows this money to be moved to pay for air traffic controller salaries and expenses in fiscal 2013.

The pain of the sequester will only get worse as congress refuses to do its job. This non-action is very popular with teabaggers and other anti-government groups.

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