Congress Ethics Senate

FAA Suspends All Furloughs

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a press release this morning.

The FAA has suspended all employee furloughs. Air traffic facilities will begin to return to regular staffing levels over the next 24 hours and the system will resume normal operations by Sunday evening.

Regarding the idea that Democrats “caved” or “blinked” on funding for the FAA — I couldn’t disagree more.

Did Congress act swiftly because flight delays impact them more directly that cuts to Head Start? Probably. Should Congress have ended the furlough of all federal employees rather than just a few? Absolutely. But that doesn’t make ending furloughs for the FAA a bad thing.

Democrats, including myself, have said for quite some time now that furloughs are a distinctly bad thing and that furloughs at the FAA in particular could have far reaching effects on the economy. And while Congress’s motivation for jumping into action may be cynical or selfish, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use the opportunity to put some people back to work.

As for the idea that President Obama should veto a bill that would end the furlough of FAA employees — there would be no benefit to doing so.

The bill passed with a solid, veto-proof super-majority, so even if the president felt inclined to veto the bill in the interest of negotiating a broader deal, he would have nothing to show for it other than weeks of bad press. And make no mistake — the effects of FAA furloughs on the press almost certainly played a role in how quickly they were averted.

I’m aware that Eric Cantor and John Boehner believe they’ve scored some big victory, but I don’t care what they think and neither should you.

Each senator or representative who voted to restore the funding of the FAA while opposing the same for other federal agencies should be held accountable. And if you go down the list, I promise an overwhelming majority of Democrats who voted for yesterday’s bill also support ending all furloughs.

“Both sides are the same” is a terrible message to present at a time like this.

  • Pete2099

    I thought Obama and the White House came up with the Sequester with the republican approval..
    Obama knows well that the sequester was the republicans dream..
    Automatic cuts to the social programs.
    Republicans knew very well that they could stop any programs they wish to
    be exempted from it.
    I think republicans have become the most anti middle class , seniors and poor this
    country has ever seem…..
    But Obama in a democrat in name only..

    • muselet

      I thought Obama and the White House came up with the Sequester with the republican approval..

      Not really.


  • nicole

    Really well said, Ashby.

    It breaks my heart that sequestration is going to impact so many who have so little.

    On the other hand, “all or nothing” ultimatums never seem to come out on the side we would like (as if the R’s give a rat’s ass what happens to the poor), and as you said, at the very least, those who hold FAA jobs will benefit, as will a broad section of people, businesses, industries, and governments across the country.

  • muselet

    I agree that the weeping and wailing and rending of garments over this vote is all a bit much. Even the usually level-headed Ezra Klein jumped on the “the Rs won and we’re all doomed!” bandwagon yesterday.

    Klein did make one point I very nearly agree with:

    As Politico’s Glenn Thrush pointed out on MSNBC Friday, President Obama could’ve vetoed the FAA bill while standing at a Head Start that’s about to throw needy children out of the program. He could’ve vetoed it from the home of an jobless worker who just saw her benefits cut. Democrats could simply have insisted that the powerful can’t get out of sequestration unless the powerless can, too.

    Granted, the effectiveness of that bit of political theater would have depended on our glorious news media actually doing their job (all together now: HA!) and it wouldn’t have changed the ultimate outcome (at the end of the day, Congress as a whole cares far more about the convenience of the wealthy than about the well-being of the poor). But it might have shamed a few Ds into pushing for the right thing to be done about every other government service.

    Regardless, the outcome wouldn’t have been any worse: Barack Obama was going to be painted as the Big Loser no matter what.


    • nicole

      Completely agree with you and that point made by Klein.

      I wish it could have been different.

    • JMAshby

      Considering how much members of the media, even on the left, whined about their flights delays I really don’t think announcing a veto at a pre-school would have changed anything.

      • muselet

        Agreed. As I said, the political theater would only have worked if we had a functioning news media.


        • Michael J. West

          The political theater wouldn’t have worked either. Congress would’ve overridden the veto anyway, and Boehner or Cantor or whomever would have scheduled the presser surrounded by no-longer-furloughed employees who would now not be missing mortgage payments, etc.