Huerta said most of the agency’s 47,000 employees would likely be furloughed one day every other week until the fiscal year ends in September. The FAA could be forced to close many of the 230 air-traffic-control towers at airports that are less busy, such as those in Boca Raton, Fla., and Joplin, Mo.
Last year, the House passed two bills that would have stopped the sequester and replaced some of the spending cuts with others. But the White House said the magnitude of the cuts was unacceptable and would imperil critical government programs. Instead, it has pushed for an alternative that includes spending cuts and new tax revenue, achieved by scaling back tax breaks that benefit the wealthy and certain industries.
At the beginning of the year, the two sides agreed to a deal that raised taxes on the wealthy, mainly by allowing the top rate to return to what it was during the Clinton administration. Since then, Republicans have said they are closed to new tax revenue; Obama is seeking up to $600 billion more.
The Friday meeting represents an “opportunity for us to visit with the president about how we can all keep our commitment to reduce Washington spending,” McConnell said in a statement. “With a $16.6 trillion national debt, and a promise to the American people to address it, one thing is perfectly clear: we will cut Washington spending. We can either secure those reductions more intelligently, or we can do it the president’s way with across-the board cuts. But one thing Americans simply will not accept is another tax increase to replace spending reductions we already agreed to.”
Pelosi said that she wants to see “a balanced, bipartisan solution to avoid the unemployment and economic uncertainty caused by the indiscriminate cuts set to take effect.”
As part of Obama’s efforts to put pressure on congressional Republicans, Organizing for Action, a nonprofit established to promote his second-term agenda, contacted people on its mailing list with a warning: “Prepare yourself for job layoffs, reduced access to early education, slower emergency response, slashed health care, and more people living on the street.”
The automatic spending cuts “will hurt everyday Americans — including you,” the group said in a statement e-mailed to supporters.
William Branigin, Paul Kane, Lori Aratani, Ed O’Keefe, Rosalind S. Helderman and Lori Montgomery contributed to this report.
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