Senate-passed FAA furlough fix bill heads to House tomorrow

posted at 10:01 pm on April 25, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

A couple things. I hope this “Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013″ is clean. One would guess it must be, as it passed with unanimous consent, suggesting it was not all larded up with nonsense.

Two, it looks like the bill simply authorizes the agency to use part of its already existing budget to prevent flight control furloughs instead of reinstating funding or stopping the sequestration.

Three, doesn’t that just concede the federal government can shift and prioritize when necessary, and didn’t even need extra money to do it?

Which in turn reveals the Obama administration’s strategy to be the worst public servants ever by inflicting the highest amount of pain on the public as possible, which by the way, should now disappear after a three-day news cycle.

Anyway, it heads to the House tomorrow:

The Senate moved quickly Thursday evening to help ease the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to handle automatic spending cuts set forth in the sequester.

Senators unanimously approved the “Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013″ — a patch to fix the deep cuts that have furloughed air traffic controllers and delayed flights across the country.

The bill gives the FAA authority to spend up to $253 million of money already in the FAA’s budget — but not allocated to pay for other things — to keep employees on the job and make sure more flights a on time.

It was passed by unanimous consent, which means no senator objected.

The House could take the bill up tomorrow and pass it with 2/3 support of that chamber.

All of this was a last minute scramble to avert a crisis that was becoming more and more politically problematic by the day.

I wonder how big a political problem air travel inconveniences really are. They get a lot of media attention because a lot of people in the media and on the coasts do a lot of flying. But flying is a relatively rare occurrence for much of the country. Back when the media was in full-on “don’t touch my junk” mode covering the TSA’s new groping and X-ray standards, polling didn’t reveal that the American public was nearly as concerned about it as, say, a frequently traveling libertarian like myself might like. They simply weren’t affected.

But the fact that Congress is acting on this, and assuming it doesn’t spend extra money, this would seem to suggest that the Obama strategy of letting the people suffer is too risky for both parties, not just Republicans. If that’s the case, optimum suffering cannot occur.

As Kevin Glass notes, the envisioned hostage taking didn’t come to fruition, which is good for the country, the budget, and bad for the Obama strategy:

Previously, Democrats wanted to hold all of the sequestration cuts – which would total over $100 billion over two years – hostage to FAA funding. We’ll see if this all goes through acceptably, but this is certainly a positive first step for Americans who would like to see fewer delays and Democrats who would have liked to hold American travelers hostage to billions of dollars of increased spending in other areas.

While we’re at it, maybe we could unanimously consent to get what should be a fast-moving, high-tech endeavor out of the hands of a federal government that stymies it at every turn? Dude, if Canada can do it…


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