To close the circle on an issue we discussed this morning, the House voted 361 to 41 this afternoon to pass the Senate bill ending FAA furloughs that delayed air travel throughout the country this week.
The bill will now go President Obama, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he will sign it into law.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) greeted the news with a little gloating.
Cantor’s memo Friday morning, passed along to TPM by a leadership source, cited headlines about Democrats “blink[ing]” first in the FAA delays battle and the White House “scrambl[ing] for damage control.” It also quoted a tweet by Roll Call reporter Steven Dennis calling the legislation “a complete, utter cave by Senate Democrats and, if signed, by the White House.”
“This victory is in large part a result of our standing together under the banner of #Obamaflightdelays,” Cantor said.
Well, sort of. The FAA resolution keeps the spending cuts, but gives the agency some discretion to move other money around to make up the difference. That’s why it’s seen as a “cave” – Democrats have said they want to either turn off the sequester or replace it with a balanced compromise. This does neither.
Democrats accepted it anyway because they just wanted to make the problem go away quickly, and say it does not reflect how they’ll deal with future sequestration negotiations.
But if we think about this just a little more, Cantor’s bravado is misplaced, at least a little. For one thing, Republicans “scrambled” just as quickly this week, fearing they might get blamed for the delays, too. It’s precisely why they launched such an aggressive public-relations campaign, hoping to divert responsibility for the spending cuts they claim to love.
For another, the legislative remedy also makes clear that the “Obama flight delays” talking point was a rather blatant lie from the outset – according to Republicans, it was the Obama administration’s policy that caused the FAA furloughs. This wasn’t true, and the legislative fix helps prove it – if this was a White House policy, why did Congress need to intervene to fix it?
As for the larger discussion, I’m still looking forward to Cantor – or anyone else among congressional Republicans – to explain why flight delays are intolerable, but the other consequences of sequestration aren’t worth Congress’ immediate attention.