Griping travelers may finally get Congress to do something about the sequester. Over the last five days furloughed air traffic controllers have caused thousands of delays at airports across the country.
“There’s a lot of frustration about flight delays, there’s lots of frustration in other areas,” said Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee Thursday. “The solution here is to replace the sequester.”
Van Hollen told Jansing & Co. that he has tried four times to get a vote in the House to replace the sequester, to no end.
For now, it appears lawmakers are more interested in band-aid solutions.
Senator Harry Reid wants to roll back the sequester temporarily, using savings from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something the Obama administration supports. There are also a flurry of bills being proposed that would deal with just the FAA and aviation component. The Wall Street Journal reports Senators Amy Klobuchar and John Hoeven are introducing a bill to try giving the FAA more flexibility to manage the cuts, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is working on a bill to re-instate air traffic controllers by cutting tax breaks for corporate jet owners.
“I’m not against trying to deal with the impacts of the sequester, what I’m saying is that every week there’s going to be another thing that pops up. So rather than trying to fix the problem three days after it pops up, let’s try and deal with the underlying cause,” Van Hollen said.
Van Hollen said he’s presented several options to deal with deficit reduction, including getting rid of some tax breaks and crop subsidies, as well as other cuts.
The sequester is having an impact on everything from FDA inspections, New York City’s Fleet Week, to public defenders, but it’s the air travel delays that have recently sparked attention.
Politico reports there was a 40 minute meeting between Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, FAA Chief Michael Huerta and Senator Jay Rockefeller Wednesday. But, it doesn’t appear any firm solution materialized.