​FAA Furlough Bill Passes After Painful Spending Cuts​​

April 27, 2021

Lawmakers worked hard in the night to relieve FAA air traffic delays caused by sequester-related furloughs by passing a bill after painful spending cuts were mandated by Congress last week.

FAA Furlough Bill

While the legislators likely improved their chances for on-time flights when they return to work next month, cuts that are harming care for cancer patients, closing children out of preschool and ending food programs for the elderly remain in place.

The $85 billion in mandatory cuts this year are a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which Congress passed after its standoff over raising the nation’s debt limit. The sequester was proposed as a fallback in case Congress could not come up with a more rational way to achieve at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over a decade — the theory being that sequestration would be so painful that Congress wouldn’t let it happen.

But Congress and the “super committee” tasked with the budget-cutting job failed anyway.

The sequester’s knife has already slashed other programs. But faced with an outcry from the flying public over delays caused by sequester-related furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration, the Senate acted Thursday night and the House followed suit Friday, voting 361 to 41 to give the FAA budget flexibility otherwise barred by the sequester law. The legislation allows the agency to move up to $253 million from construction accounts to operations accounts to keep air traffic controllers on the job.

President Barack Obama still has to sign the measure.

In passing the bill, many Republicans blamed the Obama administration for the furlough problem.

“I think we all agree the administration and the FAA has handled this sequester poorly,” said Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee.

“The Congress is stepping in to correct the problems created by the administration’s gross mismanagement,” Latham added, accusing the White House of playing “political games,” with the bill.

Democrats argued that the FAA debacle was another reason to replace the sequester-related furlough and possibly through a new bill.