Breaking: House passes bill to end FAA furloughs

posted at 12:42 pm on April 26, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

On a slow news day, this qualifies as breaking news.  Democrats and Republicans have come together in rare bipartisan fashion to slap down the FAA’s sequester antics by increasing the spending flexibility of the agency to deal with a 4% reduction of a budget that’s gone up almost 10% over the last six years:

In rare bipartisan accord, normally quarrelsome U.S. lawmakers passed a measure designed to end budget-related air traffic controller furloughs blamed for widespread flight delays.

The House of Representatives approved the legislation, capping a major congressional initiative as delays snarled traffic at airports. The House vote comes a day after unanimous approval by the U.S. Senate.

The measure — which is expected to be signed into law by President Obama — gives the Transportation Department budget planners new flexibility for dealing with forced spending cuts.

It would also allow authorities to protect 149 control towers at small- and medium-sized airports that are slated for closure for budgetary reasons.

The Senate passed the same bill last night, and the White House announced earlier today that Barack Obama would sign the bill if Congress passed it.  He has little choice in the matter; Senate Democrats sounded the retreat yesterday when it became apparent that voters didn’t blame the sequester but an incompetent Obama administration for the delays.  Vetoing the bill would have made Obama’s intention to inflict as much pain as possible too obvious.

Jay Carney still tried to salvage as much political spin as possible:

“But ultimately, this is no more than a temporary Band-Aid that fails to address the overarching threat to our economy posed by the sequester’s mindless across the board cuts.”

Would that be the “mindless across the board cuts” authored by the White House?  Yes, indeed.

Update: David Freddoso puts it very well:

Sequestration is actually showing us why government may in fact be the worst institution in our entire society to make decisions about what’s done with money. Amid a slight reduction in what Philadelphia gets from the feds to pay for low-income housing, the city leaves low-income families languishing on some waiting list, lays off a bunch of workers who are supposed to serve them, and then decides to pay for elective surgeries for any male city employee who wants female private parts, or vice versa.

I bet that really makes you want to restore all of that lost funding, doesn’t it?

That’s just one example — and it’s an egregious one, but there’s an example like this in every federal agency and every town and every state in America. That is why, I believe, Senate Democrats backed down so quickly on the FAA. For every person convinced by the air traffic control furloughs about the virtues of government, there are probably ten who have discovered just how badly misplaced its priorities are.

My column at The Fiscal Times yesterday notes the huge budget hit the FAA has taken … not:

Wait, did I say “reduction of funds?”  Over the same six-year period, the FAA budget has increased from $14.5 billion in FY2007 to $15.9 billion in FY2012, with the FY2014 budget proposal set for $15.5 billion.  The budget increased 9.7 percent between FY2007 and FY2012, and even with a proposed reduction of $400 million in FY2014, the FAA would still have increased 6.9 percent in seven years. If that seems modest, consider that air traffic levels have declined by 27 percent since the 9/11 attacks – and that FAA funding has increased 41 percent in the same period.

In fact, CNN’s Candy Crowley confronted LaHood two months ago on this very point.  “Budgets go up and down,” was LaHood’s weak response, but he’s only half right.  In Washington, they only go up.

Update: Reason’s Nick Gillespie notices the liberal angst over solving the flight-delay problem with existing funding — and the argument that addressing the flying public’s concerns is somehow inherently elitist.  I’m not going to excerpt it — just read the whole thing.

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An unnecessary law written only to protect us from being held hostage by the politburo…

Disgusting.

Skywise on April 26, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Does this mean we should take a piece of tissue paper, rip it up, toss it in the air and give a half-hearted “whoopee” or something?

pilamaye on April 26, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Jay Carney [characterized Obama's sequester as] “mindless across the board cuts.”

The truth comes out! Even Obama’s flunkies think Obama is mindless.

Fenris on April 26, 2013 at 12:48 PM

More Obamamoney, courtesy of the Republican Party.

~puke~

Liam on April 26, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Barry hasn’t had too many triumphs lately. Probably about time to invade another Muslim country and give the jihadists a helping hand. That always seems to work out well for him.

a capella on April 26, 2013 at 12:52 PM

We won’t have to wait long before the next sequester crisis rises.

Then Obama will have the Republicans scrambling to fix that issue.

Done three times, Obama will get to say “see, I was right about the sequester; and the Republicans agree with me because they agree to repeatedly pass new legislation to fix it”.

This is a not a good path to be following.

Carnac on April 26, 2013 at 12:53 PM

I imagine the Congress has pointed out to the FAA/DoT what “accounts” mean in Federal Budgeting.

Another Drew on April 26, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Sequester Carney!

txdoc on April 26, 2013 at 12:58 PM

What if we privatized Air Traffic?

…….AND EVERYTHING else the Federal government does?

PappyD61 on April 26, 2013 at 12:58 PM

What’s sweet about this article is that the “pubic” knows the dog-eater is intentionally allowing this all to happen. And the missing “l” is intentional. That’s how I view the scumbag, illiterate masses.

HiJack on April 26, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Obama plays these congressional stupes like an old fiddle. Of course, it doesn’t matter what the source of the problem is, or what they do, the main stream marxist media branch of the DNC will succeed in instilling in the brains of all the mindless idiots out there that this is ENTIRELY the republicans’ fault. The American people should be livid over what obama did. He furloughed the reason for each departments’ existence. Reagan fired ALL the controllers, and with a few exceptions, we didn’t have this much of a problem. This is the typical way the bureaucrats fight back. This is the reason we have a brass-heavy military. Lay off all the teeth before you touch the tail. This will make the people regret they shorted the criminal bureaucrats their just monetary due.

The next time, maybe our moronic congress critters can come up with a law that states that no person, whose job is the reason the department exists, will be furloughed. The only furlough must be taken by the administrators.

Old Country Boy on April 26, 2013 at 12:59 PM

“…Obama will get to say ‘see, I was right about the sequester; and the Republicans agree with me because they agree to repeatedly pass new legislation to fix it’…”

I thought Obama was “right” about the sequester because he demanded it during the Debt Ceiling mess; now it’s all the fault of the GOP for giving him what he initially wanted.

The Devils….not protecting him from himself.

Another Drew on April 26, 2013 at 1:00 PM

On a slow news day, this qualifies as breaking news.

So does this:

Obama to Planned Parenthood–“God bless you” as you kill millions of children.

We elected him.
We have allowed legal abortion for 40 years.
Therefore, we, as a nation, deserve the punishment that is coming.
Because God does judge nations, especially ones that forsake as much knowledge of the Scriptures as we have.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-largest-abortion-provider-god-bless-you_719216.html

itsnotaboutme on April 26, 2013 at 1:01 PM

“But only the millionaires and billionaires were supposed to be paying for healthcare…..how did we screw that up?”

Pelosi tweet to Obama

BobMbx on April 26, 2013 at 1:03 PM

It’s how the government works, has worked, and will work.

If you get money, you spend ALL Of it. Anything you don’t spend you won’t get in the future, and you’ll lose power and prestige by not spending money (expanding your influence).

IF you have to make a cut, you cut the most important things FIRST so that it looks like you’re doing something important… otherwise you not only won’t get that money back, you’ll face losing more money (and power and prestige) when the initial cuts don’t appear to hurt anything. You must protect your wasteful useless spending by cutting it last, to preserve your spending (and power).

The entire system is rigged to encourage and reward WASTING money, to encourage making cuts VERY painful, and to punish anyone who has a shred of fiscal responsibility.

gekkobear on April 26, 2013 at 1:07 PM

What if we privatized Air Traffic?

…….AND EVERYTHING else the Federal government does?

PappyD61 on April 26, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Then we’d have anarchy, as privatizing literally every Federal function would also include the privatization of the legislature, judiciary, and military, which would mean whoever was the owner would be able to wreak havoc on the nation.

Not that that’s what you envisioned, but taken literally, that’s what would ensue.

Stoic Patriot on April 26, 2013 at 1:09 PM

With the current occupants of the places of power in this country, we’d probably lose if Cuba were to invade right now.

BobMbx on April 26, 2013 at 1:12 PM

The cost of government today is about twice as it was ten years ago. Makes you wonder how anything got done in 2003 when it was so underfunded. /

Happy Nomad on April 26, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Then we’d have anarchy, as privatizing literally every Federal function would also include the privatization of the legislature, judiciary, and military, which would mean whoever was the owner would be able to wreak havoc on the nation.

Not that that’s what you envisioned, but taken literally, that’s what would ensue.

Stoic Patriot on April 26, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Air Traffic Control is inherently a federal function?

Happy Nomad on April 26, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Reagan fired ALL the controllers, and with a few exceptions, we didn’t have this much of a problem.

Old Country Boy on April 26, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Yep. it would be nice if the GOP would mention this once or twice andd pound home the fact that Barky went out of his way to make the situation as bad as he possibly could (which is another impeachable offense, for those keeping score).

Of course, this is the same thing Barky threatened to do with the debt service when he got on TV every single night and threatened default if the debt limit wasn’t raised – even though there was 10 times as much in cash receipts coming to the Treasury than needed for debt service. Barky would have had his criminal junta intentionally default – that threat of his having been another of his tens of clearly impeachable offenses.

But, this GOP can’t be bothered to worry about this stuff or point out the obviously criminal nature of this adminstration. Barky should have been impeached (and prosecuted) over his dictat that new law from the Oval Office was immediately legalizing any illegal he thought deserved it … but instead the GOP has jumped in and tried to outdo Barky in the ignoring and destruction of our law on that issue.

It is all so disgusting. barky should have been thrown out of office the first week he slimed in (back when he was totally unable to even put a cabinet together). Then, America would have been spared all this … but, nooooo.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on April 26, 2013 at 1:21 PM

On a slow news day, this qualifies as breaking news.

So does this:

Obama to Planned Parenthood–“God bless you” as you kill millions of children.

We elected him.
We have allowed legal abortion for 40 years.
Therefore, we, as a nation, deserve the punishment that is coming.
Because God does judge nations, especially ones that forsake as much knowledge of the Scriptures as we have.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-largest-abortion-provider-god-bless-you_719216.html

itsnotaboutme on April 26, 2013 at 1:01 PM

I agree, what’s the weather like where that speech took place, no thunderstorms or lightning bolts?

MontanaMmmm on April 26, 2013 at 1:23 PM

It now goes to Mr. Obama, who signaled he will sign it — though the White House was not happy about it.

“It is a band-aid solution. It does not solve the bigger problem,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

He said this was a one-time exception and the president wouldn’t entertain other specific carve-outs from the sequesters.

As luck would have it, the white guys who wrote the Constitution actually thought of this, and included a function that removes the POTUS from the process of making law. Its called “veto override”.

Its been a fairly poor week for President Pouty. Historical.

BobMbx on April 26, 2013 at 1:24 PM

He said this was a one-time exception and the president wouldn’t entertain other specific carve-outs from the sequesters.

Veto it now then, Barry – show the country who you are. If it doesn’t solve the problem, then show us how you intend to solve it.

CycloneCDB on April 26, 2013 at 1:29 PM

itsnotaboutme on April 26, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Back in 2007 when he was campaigning the rat-eared coward said:

“There will always be people, many of goodwill, who do not share my view on the issue of choice. On this fundamental issue, I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield.”

Today’s speech dropped any acknowledgement that people of goodwill may not support the murder of children. But what struck me the most was when he talked in glowing terms about how many more abortions are being performed. I thought the goal was that abortions were to be rare.

Happy Nomad on April 26, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Its like the keystone cops are running things.

unseen on April 26, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Its like the keystone cops are running things.

unseen on April 26, 2013 at 1:34 PM

But at least they were funny. This crew is downright dangerous.

Liam on April 26, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Democrats and Republicans have come together in rare bipartisan fashion to slap down the FAA’s sequester antics

White House hardest hit.

GarandFan on April 26, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Privatizing the Air Traffic Control system: There is a company in Annapolis MD that used to control most of the air traffic outside the US and provided radio and digital service to the airlines. It was owned by the airlines. It is still in existence. If you ever flew over the Pacific ocean, you were under their control. Their radios were located throughout the US. The airlines still use their radios for dispatching. They control airlanes and airports in Russia, China, Thiland etc. It would be far better is companies like ARINC (Aeronautical Radio Incorporated) were given the task, along with all the public/private airport authorities,of handling our airspace. The government doesn’t control the tracks and dispatching of the railroads, truck lines, buses, etc.

By the way, this company, not the FAA who took credit for it, was primarily responsible of clearing the air traffic on 9/11. This company also provided the primary trans-frequency communication for Katrina. I don’t ordinarily name specific companies on blogs, but this one deserves some credit it hasn’t been given by the bureaucrats.

Old Country Boy on April 26, 2013 at 1:40 PM

Barry O. has gone lame duck on us.

albill on April 26, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Someone is going to knock this gang down a peg or two, and it will be soon.

And I have been assured that it will not be the GOP or conservatives or old white guys.

Why?

My psychic says that those groups have to grow a pear.

I know that pears only grow on trees and require pollination, several seasons and good soil and etc.

IlikedAUH2O on April 26, 2013 at 1:52 PM

We haven’t suffered enough, next up, meat inspectors. Please.

DDay on April 26, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Obama is a historical swine in chief, against his own people.

Schadenfreude on April 26, 2013 at 2:23 PM

an historical

Schadenfreude on April 26, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Another of OBOZO’s childish gimmicks to inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on the American people as REVENGE for an insignificant budget reduction has backfired.

TeaPartyNation on April 26, 2013 at 2:32 PM

I’ve worked for a variety of businesses and industries over the years. Some of my employers/clients have been large and some small. When faced with reduced revenues due to loss of contracts, competition, poor sales, economic downturns, etc., they all had one thing in common. They’d either impose a freeze on hiring, cut staff, not fill open positions, or sometimes all the above.

So what does our fabulous Federal Govt do in such dire circumstances? Hire more people. I just checked out https://www.usajobs.gov/ and http://www.opm.gov, the go to sources for federal hiring. You would think they’d have a big message on their homepage stating that “The government is not hiring at this time. Please try again later”. You’d be wrong. They are still hiring by the thousands. Obama and the Democrats can kiss my a**.

RobertE on April 26, 2013 at 2:41 PM

So, Republicans come to Obama’s rescue again instead of letting him suffer the consequences of his own actions. Good job, geniuses.

xblade on April 26, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Air Traffic Control is inherently a federal function?

Happy Nomad on April 26, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Not inherently, no, but it is one that’s currently performed by the government.

Stoic Patriot on April 26, 2013 at 3:40 PM

From the FAA website:
Our mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.”

I worked as a controller during the late 1980s when government employees were being furloughed for budget reasons. ATC, at that time was considered “essential personnel”, like firemen, police etc. and we were exempt from the government-wide furlough. No reason they could not have been categorized the same way this time around.

Any government office that isn’t open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is NOT essential. Any employee that can have holidays off, weekends off or personal days off without having to have another person called in on overtime to cover for them is ‘non-essential’.

Old Country Boy…ARINC does not perform any ATC function…they only provide digital and HF communications services that FAA controllers use. ARINC’s PDC system is a controller’s best friend.

JetBlast on April 26, 2013 at 4:03 PM

The REAL reason this was a bipartisan agreement is because our representatives are PERSONALLY affected by this…they’re also inconvenienced by flight delays.

If sequestration was affecting Greyhound, I don’t think there would be any bills being passed.

asc85 on April 26, 2013 at 4:26 PM

In a business, a manager facing cuts would try to ensure his/her customers were impacted as little as possible. In government agencies, administrators facing cuts ensure their customers are impacted the most. That tells you all you need to know.

ReaganWasRight on April 26, 2013 at 4:51 PM

OCB – I think you are too worried about Obama. Boehner has shwon some very nice play recently. This was an Obama loss – as loudly trumpeted by his major hometown daily, the Chicago Tribune.

Only the most partisan hacks will blame the GOP, and they would blame them whatever they do. Obama is way off his game. He is going to get stuck on immigration possibly as well.

Yes, privatize the air traffic control function – and then privatize the TSA.

What Obama is showing is that the govt can’t set priorities very well, thus sending the message that GOVT ISN’T COMPETENT. Great message. Its a start and I like it.

Zomcon JEM on April 26, 2013 at 5:15 PM

I heard a Congressman describe Obama’s sequester infliction-of-pain as mismanagement. Gimme a break.

There is is a diff between misfeasance and malfeasance. There is a difference between mismanagement and malmanagement. Obama’s sequester is wilfull malmanagement.

But will anyone say it?

petefrt on April 26, 2013 at 7:17 PM

petefrt on April 26, 2013 at 7:17 PM

Check how long it takes to grow a pear.

IlikedAUH2O on April 26, 2013 at 8:01 PM

In a business, a manager facing cuts would try to ensure his/her customers were impacted as little as possible. In government agencies, administrators facing cuts ensure their customers are impacted the most. That tells you all you need to know.

ReaganWasRight on April 26, 2013 at 4:51 PM

Indeed.

AesopFan on April 27, 2013 at 12:37 AM

Check how long it takes to grow a pear.

IlikedAUH2O on April 26, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Well,

Pears are grown from seed. It takes several years to go from the seedling stage to a fruit-producing tree. Most people let the garden nurseries start pear tree seedlings, and nurture them to a size that can be transplanted to your garden. Trees at your local nursery are a couple of years old. This small pear tree will still need to grow another 2-4 years to get your first fruit.

You can also graft branches from a pear tree onto other fruit trees.

I think there is probably an Aesop-style parable in there somewhere.

AesopFan on April 27, 2013 at 12:40 AM