- ‘Gay Jeans’ that fade into rainbow-colored denim created
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
- L.A. sheriff admits to testing flyover spy program without notifying residents
Cleared for takeoff: Senate votes to blunt air-traffic controller furloughs
Gives FAA authority to move money around despite sequesters
With airport delays piling up, the Senate voted late Thursday to give the Obama administration the power to cancel its furloughs of air traffic controllers — a move designed to dent the most painful part of the budget sequesters seen so far.
The bill passed unanimously, without any senators objecting, in a chamber that was almost empty. Most senators had left for a 10-day vacation earlier in the day.
The House must now act. It is still in session on Friday, so it could pass the bill this week and send it on to President Obama.
Mr. Obama had previously rejected efforts to give him more flexibility to halt the sequester cuts, arguing that tax increases to give the government more money to operate is the best solution. But overwhelming support in Congress and ongoing pain by travelers would likely sway him to sign the bill.
“There literally have been thousands of flights delayed since the furloughs went into effect, and I’m so happy we were able to work together across the aisle in a bipartisan way to resolve this problem,” said Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who wrote the bill along with Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado Democrat.
The $85 billion in budget sequesters — across-the-board cuts to most domestic and defense programs — took effect March 1. But the pain had been relatively minor for most Americans until this weekend, when the Federal Aviation Administration began furloughs of air traffic controllers.
With fewer controllers, airplane takeoffs and landings had to be spaced out more, which meant delays on the ground. Travelers complained, and members of Congress grilled the FAA, accusing it of poor management.
Some Republicans accused the White House of purposely trying to make the sequester cuts as painful as possible in order to gain the upper hand in negotiations. The FAA chief denied that in testimony this week.
The fight over the FAA highlights the battle lines for the sequester more broadly. Congressional Republicans want the Obama administration to step up and ask for areas where it needs flexibility to keep some major operations open — such as air traffic controllers.
But the administration has refused to make those requests and the White House even rejected a Republican bill that would have given it flexibility to move money around.
Thursday’s bill, though, gives the administration the flexibility the GOP had called for in order to end the furloughs. It also heads off another potential problem that was looming later this year, when the FAA had planned to close down some contract control towers.
Republicans said the bill does not increase spending, nor does it impose new taxes.
Meanwhile, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid earlier this week had proposed canceling all of the sequesters for the next five months, saying he wanted to use lower spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to cover the costs. But the GOP rejected that as a gimmick.
Mr. Reid said Thursday night that when the Senate returns from its vacation, he will try again to push for a broader solution to the whole sequester.
Still, Thursday’s bill shows that when the sequester pain hits enough Republican and Democratic voters, Congress can act to cancel individual parts of it.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
- No comment on petition to deport Bieber
- Red-state Democrats blast latest Keystone delay
- 'Deport Bieber' petition draws no comment from White House
- Obama signs law denying Iran ambassador's visa, but says law is 'advisory'
- Keystone XL pipeline still on hold after State Dept. decision
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- Kansas will nullify local regulation of guns
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Washington Redskins' 2014 schedule opens with Texans
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
- Harry Reid using tax dollars to fight Koch brothers, La. GOP chair charges
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014