U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) expressed his deep concerns today regarding the Obama Administration's announcement that it will unnecessarily furlough approximately 47,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees and create needless airports delays nationwide as a result of the president's sequestration cuts. This announcement comes on the heels of reports that the president is cutting other public services -- such as White House tours -- after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) repeatedly advised agencies not to plan for the sequester last year.
"The Obama Administration's failure to plan for sequestration is simply irresponsible," said Blunt. "According to the FAA's own Administrator last week, these furloughs are unnecessary because the agency has the authority and flexibility to move funds from other accounts. Yet, instead of protecting travelers from unnecessary delays, President Obama and his cabinet agencies are making American families pay the price for their poor planning."
During his sworn testimony before Congress last Tuesday, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta admitted that the agency has the flexibility under the current law to transfer up to 2 percent of funding from one activity to another without congressional action. The FAA currently spends $2.7 billion annually on non-personnel costs -- including $541 million for consultants, $179 million on travel, and $134 million on office supplies. Unfortunately, instead of moving money from those accounts, the FAA opted to take the approach that will most greatly impact travelers and the economy.
"Federal spending has skyrocketed 19 percent since 2008. Instead of interrupting Americans' lives and delaying air travel, President Obama should target these sequester cuts in a smarter way to protect people," Blunt concluded.
Last week, Blunt introduced the "Essential Services Act of 2013," which would protect American jobs and public safety by ensuring "essential" federal employees like air traffic controllers continue to provide vital services. The bill, which Senate Democrats blocked as an amendment to the continuing resolution (CR) last month, would give the Obama Administration the flexibility it claims it does not have to apply the same standards used during occurrences of inclement weather or other government shutdowns to the sequestration cuts to each agency.