With Sequester Looming, Officials Hoping for Last Minute Resolution

AASHTO Journal, 22 February 2013

With mandatory budget cuts looming just days away, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood briefed reporters at the White House today, Feb. 22, on potential impacts to the nation’s transportation system.

LaHood said that the sequestration, which goes into effect March 1, would cut roughly $1 billion from the Federal Aviation Administration’s current fiscal year budget that runs through September.

“This is a big deal because a lot of people fly, a lot of people use airports,” LaHood said. “This is going to have a real impact.”

LaHood said that in response to the mandatory budget cuts, the FAA would furlough airport employees and he expects travel delays to increase substantially. LaHood also mentioned the possibility of closing control towers at various smaller (yet utilized) airports.

LaHood stated his reasoning for speaking during the press briefing was to encourage Republicans to come to the table to find a better solution to the spending cuts. While there hasn’t been movement on a deal, both parties have expressed desire to reach one before those cuts take place late next week.

“Both parties today have a responsibility to find a bipartisan solution to the sequester,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) wrote in an op-ed run in the Wall Street Journal​ Wednesday. “Turning it off and erasing its deficit reduction isn’t an option. What Congress should do is replace it with other spending cuts that put America on the path to a balanced budget in 10 years, without threatening national security.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also stated his hope in resolving the sequestration issue and finding a better approach.

“President Obama is right: to give our economy a foundation for growth, Congress must replace the sequester with a balanced approach to deficit reduction,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said in a statement. “Senate Democrats will soon vote on a plan to temporarily replace the harsh austerity of the sequester with a combination of smart spending cuts and measures that close wasteful corporate tax loopholes and subsidies and ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.” ​​

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