Reid Proposes Plan to Replace Sequester Cuts with Money from Afghanistan, Iraq Wars


Reid, on the floor hours before he announced the bill, spoke more broadly, bringing up other areas where cuts have hurt the public.

"Congress could act now to reverse these cuts without adding a single dollar to the deficit," Reid said. "We could erase the sequester for the rest of the year, which is a fraction of the savings from winding down these two wars. Using these savings, Congress could avert the most painful and senseless sequester cuts."

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association decried the furloughs on Tuesday, saying that the FAA is paying some workers overtime to cover for furloughed employees.

"It's simple math - furloughing controllers earning base while paying others base pay plus an additional 50 percent will not result in savings," the NATCA said in statement.

The FAA said Tuesday they were putting in place "traffic management initiatives," such as spacing flights further apart to allow for low staffing but those could lead to further delays.

By 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Air Traffic Control System Command Center listed only one airport -- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport -- with delays due to staffing shortages. But just 20 minutes later, both D.C. airports joined the list. The average flight delay at Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan National Airport was one hour and 13 minutes, according to the command center.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended the FAA and the Obama administration.

"The FAA has initiated a series of cost-saving measures ... but the fact is 70 percent of the FAA's operations budget is personnel, so there is simply no way to avoid furloughs," Carney said at the daily press briefing Tuesday. "If Congress wants to address this matter then they should act, but this is something that only by law Congress can do."

He went on to say it would take more than just a short-term bill aimed at fixing FAA furloughs to get to the root of the problem with sequestration.

"The fact is there are a number of negative consequences and a Bandaid fix to this problem, while we will certainly be open to looking at it, does not solve the overall problem," he said. "The overall problem can and should be solved by embracing the basic principles supported by the American people that we should reduce our deficit in a balanced way."

ABC's Luis Martinez and Matt Hosford contributed to this report.

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