After giving a fiery speech on the House floor yesterday imploring her colleagues to get to work on fixing the sequester, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) voted today to stop the Federal Aviation Administration's furlough of workers, but said much more had to be done to alleviate the harmful effects of sequestration in communities across the country. Rep. Slaughter called on the House Majority to bring up Rep. Chris Van Hollen's (D-MD) bill to stop sequestration by offsetting the indiscriminate cuts with a combination of targeted cuts and increased revenues from ending subsidies for Big Oil, implementing the Buffett rule, and reforming agribusiness subsidies.
"Now we're going to worry about airplanes but I'm also concerned about the cancer patients in this country who are not getting their shots because of sequestration; I'm worried about at least the 70,000 young kids who have been cut out of Head Start because of sequestration," Slaughter said yesterday on the floor of the House. "What people are seeing now with flight delays is only a small piece of it. Every day it's going to get worse."
According to the FAA, total flight delays this week have more than tripled from the same period a year ago: 8,804 flight delays between Sunday, April 21 and Wednesday, April 24, 2013, as compared to only 2,795 flight delays between Sunday, April 22 and Wednesday, April 25, 2012. The bill passed by the House today permits the FAA to transfer $253 million in FY 2013 from the Airport Improvement Program to air traffic controller salaries and expenses, negating the necessity for further furloughs of controllers through the end of the fiscal year. However, the bill does nothing to address sequestration cuts that FAA will have to make in Fiscal Year 2014 and beyond.
However, the sequester's cuts are already wreaking havoc on a number of other programs that American families rely on. The sequester is projected to cut 70,000 children out of Head Start and eliminate 14,000 jobs from the program, cut 4 million meals from the Meals on Wheels program, and 72 percent of cancer clinics will likely have to deny Medicare cancer patients. All-in-all, the sequester is expected to eliminate 700,000 jobs at a time when the economy is still sluggish.
Unfortunately, these cuts have not gotten as much attention as the flight delays from the media. According to a review of cable news coverage during the month of April, the FAA furloughs and flight delays have been mentioned 46 times, while Medicare patients being turned away from cancer clinics received 21 mentions, cuts to Head Start received 19 mentions, and reductions to the Meals on Wheels program received just seven mentions.