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April 26, 2013

Blink: Democrats Agree To Transfer Funds To Stop FAA Furloughs

I don't think the airline delays were as bad as they were being made out to be but the pressure of them forced Democrats to give in and allow the FAA to shift funds under the sequester.

The Senate measure would give the administration flexibility to transfer money among Transportation Department accounts, creating a level of fluidity that Republicans say the department has had all along. The White House has insisted otherwise, arguing that sequestration required the across-the-board reductions that resulted in about 1,500 air traffic controllers a day having to take an unpaid day off.

In the midst of that debate came word that the Justice Department had reversed a plan that would have required 116,000 workers to take 22 unpaid days off between now and Oct. 1. In a letter to his staff, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday that additional flexibility provided by Congress and “aggressive steps” taken by the department to cut costs allowed him to eliminate the need for furloughs.

But he said that if sequestration continues in the next fiscal year, “furloughs are a distinct possibility.”

Obama wanted to make the sequester pain as public as possible but it's pretty clear that spending a $100 billion or so less than planned isn't the end of the world. This is especially true when you consider that smart management of existing funds enables you to prioritize (what a novel concept for the government) services.

As always, Obama wanted a comprehensive and "balanced approach" which meant keep all the spending and raise taxes. He didn't want the ability to move money around because as we see that would make clear sequester was a non-event.

The House could act on this as early as today and then send it to Obama. Enjoy the rare case where the GOP held firm. Good for them.


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posted by DrewM. at 10:54 AM

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