On Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill canceling furloughs of air traffic controllers, triggered by automatic “sequester” budget cuts. Congress had hurriedly passed the legislation the previous week, no doubt after a bunch of corporate fat cats stuck on the tarmac in their private jets got fed up with the delays.
But 41 members of the House voted against the Reducing Flight Delays Act, including 29 progressives. They don’t like flight delays either, but they refused to pander to the concerns of frequent fliers without also addressing the concerns of other Americans who are also feeling the pain of sequester cuts.
One of them was Democrat Mark Pocan. On the same day that President Obama signed the legislation, the congressman from Wisconsin’s 2nd congressional district showed up at the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison with seniors, students and others from the community who are experiencing the pain caused by the sequester.
They demanded an end to the “piecemeal” approach to addressing the pain of indiscriminate cuts to necessary programs such as Head Start, Meals on Wheels, federal housing assistance, Medicare, scientific research, public education and small business loans.
“If you were to judge by Congress’ actions, you’d think waiting in line at the airport was more important to us than providing meals to seniors, early education for kids or critical care to cancer patients,” said Pocan.
The message was simple: end the sequester for ALL.
“The sequester is not just a bad idea for one program or group — it’s a bad idea for everyone, and it’s past time we eliminate it from our books and our memories,” he said. “House Republicans need to allow us to move forward with a budget, and Congress needs to come together and support all of our hard-working families, not just those with influence.”