WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) cosponsored legislation that would force the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fix the flight delay mess the agency created by failing to adequately plan for sequestration.
“These unnecessary, politically-motivated furloughs will cause a huge inconvenience for travelers. Delays that slow down air travel literally put jobs at risk throughout the aviation and travel industries. These delays also slow down businesses that rely on employee travel. Furloughing 47,000 employees, instead of prioritizing less damaging cuts, is clearly designed to confirm White House scare tactics regarding the impact of sequestration. This needs to stop immediately,” Boozman said.
The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), requires the U.S. Transportation Secretary to use funds from within FAA’s existing budget to fix the flight delay situation that was caused by the recent FAA furloughs. If that cannot be accomplished, the bill gives the Secretary the authority to transfer funds from other parts of the Department’s budget to fix the shortfall.
“The FAA has discretion to keep planes safely flying and on time. Instead of furloughing staff, cuts could and should be made to overhead. Instead, the agency and the White House continue to make excuses and point fingers. Passage of this bill will force them to end the political grandstanding,” Boozman said.
In addition to this legislation, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing on aviation safety last week where FAA Administrator Michael Huerta failed to provide detailed information to members of the Committee about the impact of the furloughs, prompting a strongly written, bipartisan letter from Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Ranking Member John Thune (R-SD) demanding answers from the Administrator.
The White House remains defiant despite the bipartisan concern in the Senate. Earlier this week, White House spokesman Jay Carney blamed Congress, saying “we made it clear there would be these kinds of effects” and showed no inclination to use the authorities already given to remedy the problem.
“The reality is they can solve this problem in a minute, they are just choosing not to in an effort to blackmail Congress. It’s very irritating since Arkansans constantly have to readjust their budgets. We can make it work. The FAA can as well,” Boozman said.