Entries in sequester (2)


LaHood Warns Budget Cuts Would Be ‘Very Painful for the Flying Public’

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned Friday that looming across-the-board spending cuts would cause flight delays at major airports, force the Federal Aviation Administration to furlough workers and have a “very serious impact” on the nation’s transportation services.

Painting a bleak picture, LaHood told reporters “it’s going to be very painful for the flying public” if the cuts kick in at the end of the month.

Overall, the Department of Transportation would need to cut roughly $1 billion from its $74.2 billion budget, less than two percent. More than $600 million of the cuts would come from the FAA, which would be forced to furlough the majority of its nearly 47,000 employees.

As a result, travelers could expect delays of up to 90 minutes at major airports like New York, Chicago and San Francisco because there would be fewer controllers on staff and some flight towers at smaller airports could close temporarily.

“You’ve got a big budget. Can’t you find some other way to cut that without telling air traffic controllers to stay home?” ABC News’ Jonathan Karl asked.

“That’s a lot of money, Jonathan,” the secretary, a Republican, replied.

LaHood’s surprise appearance at the daily briefing comes as the White House is trying to ramp up pressure on Republicans to reach a deal to avoid so-called sequestration.

“I would describe my presence here with one word: Republican. They’re hoping that maybe I can influence some of the people in my own party,” the former Illinois congressman admitted.

LaHood urged his former Republican Party colleagues to “step up” and compromise and recommended they see the movie Lincoln for inspiration. “What Lincoln did is he gathered people around him the way that I believe president Obama is doing, by calling Republicans, talking to them, trying to work with them. And when that happens, big things get solved,” he said.

LaHood, 67, cautioned lawmakers to expect a flood of calls from their constituents if air-traffic delays occur. “Why does this have to happen?” he asked. “Nobody likes a delay. Nobody likes waiting in line. None of us do."

“If we can’t get our hamburger within five minutes, if we can’t get on the plane within 30, 40, 50 minutes after going through, you know what happens. They start calling their member of Congress.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pentagon Plans Furloughs of Nearly Entire Civilian Workforce

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Deep automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect on March 1 will greatly affect the Pentagon's civilian workforce, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday.

Appearing at a briefing with Pentagon Chief Financial Officer Robert Hale, Panetta said that virtually all of the department's 800,000 civilian employees will be furloughed starting in late April if sequester goes through in just over a week.

Panetta has been leading the charge against the first in the series of spending cuts to pare down the deficit, saying they will drastically undermine the effectiveness of the nation's security.

Hale was quick to add that the civilians would not be laid off, at least not during this fiscal year ending Sept. 30.  However, he could not promise that the layoffs known as reductions in force (RIFs) won't take place after then if the sequester is allowed to continue without congressional action to stop it.

As of now, the plan is to furlough civilian employees at least one day a week beginning in late April -- a reduction in payroll of about $5 billion.  In all, the Pentagon faces $46 billion in spending reductions by Sept. 30.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio