Due to the weather, some customers may experience late delivery of The Roanoke Times. We apologize for the delay.
Members of Congress can’t blame the FAA for the sequester. They have the power to end this nonsense.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
It’s one thing for the sequester to bar 4-year-olds from the Head Start door. The pre-schoolers won’t grow into their political voice for at least another 14 years. But it’s quite another thing for the sequester to make traveling Americans cool their heels in airport lounges or, worse, squeeze into tiny seats in a stuffy plane waiting and waiting and waiting for their flight’s clearance to take off.
Those Americans are capable of pounding out emails, texts and tweets to their congressperson during the moment of their discomfort.
And those Congress people, especially the Republican ones, want it to stop. As the nation enters Day 4 of the Federal Aviation Administration’s rolling furloughs of air traffic controllers, Republicans demand the FAA quit playing politics with air travel. But the FAA isn’t. It’s simply complying with a previous demand by members of Congress, especially Republican ones, to make foolish across-the-board spending reductions.
Congress wanted to reduce spending, only the so-called leaders of the free world could not agree on what to cut. So in the summer of 2011, they and the White House concocted the “sequester,” making cuts so ludicrous that our elected representatives would be forced to come up with something better. Only they didn’t. Predictably, those congressional members making the most fuss that the FAA could cut somewhere else have yet to accept that they hold the power to end the sequester.
Meanwhile, the FAA, like every other government agency, has no choice but to follow its marching orders. And when 70 percent of an agency’s budget is personnel, as the FAA’s is, and another large chunk goes to contractors to provide the equipment and communication systems to enable those workers to do their jobs, there isn’t much choice but to reduce labor costs.
Starting on Sunday, the FAA employee furloughs began, meaning that 10 percent of its employees are furloughed on any given day. Roughly 1,500 of the 15,000 controllers nationwide take off on a scheduled day, unpaid. Fewer eyes on the sky means larger gaps between planes; hence, the delays. While Roanoke Regional Airport has not been notified by the FAA how exactly the furloughs will unfold here, make no doubt, delays will occur. Travelers will know who to thank.
Weather JournalNew batch of moisture for PM