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Public Statements

Virginia Lawmakers Warn Budget Cuts Could Affect Airport Travel

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Location: Washington, DC

Flying is a hassle now; imagine having to wait in even longer security lines. How about 90-minute flight delays? That's the picture three Virginia Democrats painted inside Reagan National, flanked by representatives of pilots and travel groups during a conference on Monday. But some Republicans are questioning how a $689 million cut from the FAA's $15.9 billion budget could cause so much trouble.

Rep. Gerry Connolly provided an answer, and he says he wants it to be known this is not a simple belt tightening, because the cuts must affect personnel.

"Forty-seven thousand employees could be furloughed one day per two-week pay period, the equivalent of 10 percent of their workforce," says Connolly. "That number includes 15,000 air traffic controllers. That will affect the scheduling of flights and the availability of flights."

Connolly, Rep. Jim Moran, and Sen. Tim Kaine blamed congressional Republicans for opposing what they called a balanced approach to reach a budget deal to avoid this mess. Kaine says anything that disrupts air travel will disrupt the economy.

"We can fix this," he says. "It doesn't have to be this way. In fact, it's not that hard to fix."

They say sequestration will add an additional hour-long wait at security checkpoints because of cuts to the TSA's budget, adding that adjustments to mitigate these problems could take weeks to make.


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