A day after a trio of Virginia Democrats appeared at Reagan National Airport and urged their Republican colleagues in Congress to shield travelers from flight delays and long security lines by embracing a balanced solution to the spending cuts known as the sequester, two GOP leaders raised questions about whether the cuts to air service would be as drastic as portrayed.
In a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Rep. Bill Shuster, (R-Pa.) chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, demanded data to back assertions that the cuts would lead to flight delays at airports across the country.
LaHood said last week that DOT would have to furlough the vast majority of its 47,000 employees — a point that was reiterated Monday by Virginia lawmakers, including Sen. Tim Kaine and Reps. Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran. But the Republican lawmakers said they have yet to see data that support these conclusions.
The sequester was put into motion by the August 2011 debt-ceiling deal, but since then, there has been little progress in negotiations to avert the cuts. Obama has proposed a mix of budget cuts and new revenue by closing corporate loopholes, but Republicans have said they will not raise taxes and instead have pushed to cut federal spending.
The full text of the letter sent Monday follows.
Dear Secretary LaHood:
Since August of 2012, Congress has attempted to gather information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding spend plans under the current continuing resolution and in preparation for the possibility of a budget sequestration that may take effect on March 1 of this year. To date, those requests for information have gone unanswered. Given the Administration and the Department’s recent statements on a possible sequestration’s effects on the traveling public, it is imperative that the information we have continuously sought be provided as soon as possible.
Therefore, we are formally requesting that Department of Transportation and FAA provide to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate the following information:
The FAA’s spend plan for operating under the current continuing resolution. This plan should have been produced by the agency in October of 2012;
- The FAA’s spend plan for the Operations account by object class by month at the continuing resolution level for the full fiscal year; and
- The FAA’s spend plan for the Operations account by object class by month at the sequester level for the full fiscal year.
We ask that you provide the requested documents and information immediately.
House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation