The Federal Aviation Administration last week announced that it was closing 149 air traffic control towers at small regional airports across the country due to automatic budget cuts that went into effect on March 1. The FAA took the brunt of 60 percent of the cuts from the Dept. of Transportation, and though it originally proposed 189 closures, it narrowed it down to avoid some pain from the lost funding.
Still, the closures have one Texas Republican congressman fuming. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) wrote a letter to FAA head Michael Huerta this week saying he was “deeply troubled” by the closure of airports that help the Texas economy, the Houston Chronicle reports:
“I am deeply troubled for your public statements and proposed actions regarding the effect of the sequester on smaller, local airports. These airports have long played a vital role in economies across the country,” Farenthold said.
There’s a small problem with Farenthold’s anger: he voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011, the law that instituted caps on federal spending and, eventually, the automatic budget cuts that caused the airport closures. Since then, he has repeatedly blamed Democrats for failing to replace it with smarter cuts, but House Republicans refused to negotiate with President Obama and Democrats over a replacement that included new revenues in addition to cuts.
What is more problematic, however, is that Farenthold has only now realized that budget cuts are harming programs that help the economy. In fact, Republican efforts to cut the budget have held back the country’s recovery from the Great Recession, and Republicans continue to demand more even though spending on domestic programs is now at lower levels than it was before the recession.