Earlier this year, as automatic, across-the-board spending cuts loomed on March 1, Republican lawmakers dismissed warnings that the cuts would have any negative effects, arguing instead that spending cuts would be good for the economy. After Congress failed to strike a budget deal, triggering sequestration, Republicans largely ignored the reported impacts on low-income Americans, cancer patients, and preschoolers.
But on Monday, GOP leadership finally zeroed in on the latest consequence of sequestration, widespread flight delays — and promptly blamed President Obama.
As a result of the mandatory spending cuts, the Federal Aviation Administration has been forced to cut hours for all 47,000 employees, including 15,000 air traffic controllers. So as not to overwhelm understaffed air traffic control towers, planes must take off and land less frequently, causing lengthy delays all over the country.
Officials have warned for months that flight delays would be an inevitable consequence of the budget cuts. Nevertheless, Republican leadership launched a campaign Monday to deny the role of sequestration on flight delays, instead attempting to blame bad choices made by Obama and the FAA:
— John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) April 22, 2013
— Eric Cantor (@EricCantor) April 22, 2013
The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee joined in, asking travelers to call the White House and submit a petition telling Obama “Your flight is NOT more important than mine”:
Because the FAA’s budget is mostly dedicated to staff, the $600 million in required cuts landed squarely on air traffic controllers and other employees. While the GOP insists that the agency should have found alternatives, FAA’s operations are hamstrung due to their heavy reliance on contractors. Furthermore, the Budget Control Act, which set up sequestration, requires that the 10 percent cut must be taken equally from all activities.
Republican lawmakers have blamed various agencies, rather than budget cuts, for failing to avoid White House tour cancellations, the release of nonviolent immigration detainees, and now flight delays. Despite this selective outrage, they have thus far refused to cancel the sequester, instead demanding even more spending cuts.