Millions of travelers frustrated by airport delays may be relieved that Congress did an about-face this week, passing legislation to end the furloughs of FAA air traffic controllers.
"We've got to save the traveling public but I ask the question about 5,000 children in Texas that will lose Head Start or the millions of seniors or our military families that will lose the support because we've got the sequester," Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas, said Friday.
Joseph Beaudoin, a former federal air traffic controller who now heads the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, was glad to see Congress reverse his former colleagues' furloughs. But he is worried about all the other federal government workers who aren't so lucky.
"Last month, Congress took action to ensure that furloughs could be avoided for TSA agents, meat inspectors and border patrol agents. However, hundreds of thousands of federal employees providing services across the United States still face furloughs," Beaudoin said in a statement. "We've had enough of the reactionary legislative response. It is time for Washington to come together to agree to smart, sensible approaches to tackling the budget."
The liberal activist group MoveOn.org was more scathing, contending the reversal was "solely to appeal to wealthy contributors who fly frequently." It issued an online petition to "demand that any emergency legislation to eliminate airline delays caused by the sequester also restore cuts to Head Start, cancer clinics, housing assistance, food pantries, and unemployment insurance."
Meanwhile, NDD United -- a coalition of 3,200 groups focused on public health, medical research, education and other areas -- sent a letter to Congress before the FAA reprieve was passed. "Damage control is not a sound fiscal policy. We urge you to reject any efforts to pick favorites and instead fix sequestration, once and for all," the letter said.