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Dems cave on FAA sequester, pass ‘Reducing Flight Delays Act’

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By Doug Powers  •  April 26, 2013 10:28 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

Some are saying it’s shameful that the Democrats caved on the FAA sequester rules while leaving other targeted cuts in place. Maybe things would have gone differently if kids in Head Start were old enough to vote and politicians traveled to and from their home districts in Meals on Wheels vans, but that’s not the way things played out:

The White House and Democrats in Congress argued for months against a piecemeal fix to the budget problems caused by the sequester.

But on Thursday, Democrats caved in and agreed to allow the Federal Aviation Administration to keep air traffic control towers running at close to full capacity.

All it took was a few thousand people standing in line at the airport.

The Senate approved a deal late Thursday to ease the FAA’s burden following negotiations among both parties and the White House. The House is expected to take up the bill Friday, just before the congressional weeklong recess, so President Barack Obama can sign it.

While travelers may be relieved, some Democrats worry about saving the FAA while letting other domestic programs across the government suffer under the automatic budget cuts.

I haven’t flown anywhere since the furloughs kicked in, but when I read about airport delays I usually check this FAA site, and it’s usually all green dots. Here’s this morning’s map:

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Maybe some here who have traveled by air in the past week or so can weigh in regarding the length of their wait, but if the delays haven’t been as bad as the administration threatened (or maybe “hoped” is a better word), it’s possible the Dems have been victims of their own overexaggeration and are backpedaling on this before increasing numbers of air traveling voters say to themselves, “this isn’t the end of the world.”

The “Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013” doesn’t provide additional funding for the FAA — meaning they’re still under the rules of sequestration — but rather allows the Transportation Department to apply the cuts elsewhere. The fact that departments aren’t allowed to do that at their own discretion is the best evidence that somebody wanted control of precisely where the pain is felt kept at the top.

The House will take up the bill today, and it will need a two-thirds majority to pass.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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