WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the congressional fix for widespread flight delays is an irresponsible way to govern, but he’s prepared to sign the legislation that lawmakers fast-tracked.
He says the bipartisan bill to end furloughs of air traffic controllers is a “Band-Aid” solution rather than a lasting answer to this year’s $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester.
The cuts have affected all federal agencies, and flight delays last week left thousands of travelers frustrated and furious and Congress feeling pressured to respond.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Saturday that it had suspended all employee furloughs and that air traffic facilities would begin returning to regular staffing levels over the next 24 hours.
The FAA’s statement said the air traffic system would resume normal operations by Sunday evening.
“Republicans claimed victory when the sequester first took effect, and now they’ve decided it was a bad idea all along,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, aired Saturday.
He singled out the GOP even though the bill passed with overwhelming Democratic support in both the House and Senate.
The president scolded lawmakers for helping the Federal Aviation Administration while doing nothing to replace other cuts that he said harm federal employees, unemployed workers and preschoolers in Head Start.
“Maybe because they fly home each weekend, the members of Congress who insisted these cuts take hold finally realized that they actually apply to them, too,” Obama said.
Rushed through Congress with remarkable speed, the bill marked a shift for Democrats who had hoped the impact of the cuts would increase pressure on Republicans to reverse the broad cuts.
Republicans have rejected Obama’s proposal to replace the spending reductions with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.
“There are some in the Obama administration who thought inflicting pain on the public would give the president more leverage to avoid making necessary spending cuts, and to impose more tax hikes on the American people,” said Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania in the Republican address.
Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the FAA could have averted the flight delays on its own by cutting costs elsewhere and rejiggering work schedules, but chose not to do so.
The bill signed by Obama would let the FAA use up to $253 million from an airport improvement program and other accounts to halt the furloughs through the Sept. 30 end of the government’s fiscal year.
Faced with the prospect that emboldened Republicans will push to selectively undo other painful effects of the cuts, the White House said Friday that a piecemeal approach would be impractical, but wouldn’t definitely rule out signing other fixes.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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