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Transportation Secretary LaHood: Sequester means furloughs

- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2013

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood warned Sunday that furloughs will be imminent in his department if the across-the-board sequester spending cuts kick in Friday as scheduled.

"We're going to cancel contracts. We're going to look at everything we possibly can to get to where we need to be, which is about $600 million in cuts. But we can't do it without also furloughing people," Mr. LaHood told CNN's "State of the Union."

Among those employees hit will be air traffic controllers, he said, which could cause flight problems.

"In the end, there has to be some kind of furlough of .... air traffic controllers, and that then will also begin to curtail or eliminate the opportunity for them to guide planes in and out of airports," he said.

Mr. LaHood, a former House Republican, also called on GOP members of Congress to put partisan politics aside and work with President Obama to get a deal down to avoid the cuts.

"I'm a Republican. My audience is trying to persuade my former colleagues that they need to come to the table with a proposal, which might be they haven't done," he said. "While the president has, the Republicans haven't."

Republicans have concluded that the sequesters — set into motion by the 2011 debt deal and agreed to by Mr. Obama — offer their best immediate chances for real spending cuts.

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