The Senate Moves To Shield Itself From Sequestration

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, April 26, 2013 7:54 EDT
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Sequestration is mostly causing havoc for ordinary, working people of the sort that live paycheck to paycheck, the sort that compromise the majority of this country. That’s undoubtably why Republicans feel they can safely take them hostage in budget negotiations, causing them massive harm with sequestration in order to get Democrats accept a budget that will make those harms to ordinary people permanent. But there was one way that sequestration negatively impacts the rich assholes playing games with the lives of government workers and people who rely on government programs to get through their day: air traffic delays. The furloughing of FAA workers harms rich Senators just as much as everyone else who has to fly. Air traffic delays have been out of control and airlines have been extremely willing to blame the government publicly, stoked that air traffic delays can’t be pinned on them this time.

Alex Pareene at Salon argued that this inconvenience could push Congress to stop dicking around on the budget:

That is going to change, once flights everywhere — but especially out of the Northeast — are suddenly being delayed and canceled all the time, for no good reason. For a really dumb, easily fixable reason, in fact. (And no, we don’t need to “fix” this with a “balance” of cuts and tax hikes, we just need to not do the sequestration. Just repeal it! Super-simple. Then have your idiotic Grand Bargain Budget Showdown.)

“Shuttle flights between Washington and New York were running 60 to 90 minutes late,”the Times reports. Do you know who takes weekday shuttle flights between Washington and New York? People who think they are too important for the train, let alone the bus. People Congress listens to. (People Congress is, also.)

Members of Congress are more likely to fly commercial than attend school on an Indian reservation. Their rich constituents, the only ones they listen to, are more likely to fly often than their constituents who, say, rely on federal housing vouchers.

So Congress may feel a bit more urgency, then, about addressing the sequestration cuts. (Pundits and journalists, too, may start treating them more seriously.) The DCA-LGA shuttle is at risk.

Well, Congress may not be opting out of Obamacare, but it appears they’re willing to shield themselves from the negative affects of sequestration:

Driven by bipartisan concerns over mounting airport delays, the Senate reached agreement on Thursday night to give the secretary of transportation enough flexibility to bring the nation’s air traffic control system back up to full strength.

The legislation, which passed unanimously before the Senate left town for the next week, would allow as much as $253 million to be moved from other parts of the Transportation Department to the Federal Aviation Administration. Advocates said that should be enough to stop further furloughs and keep the air traffic control system operating at a normal pace through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

But the impact of $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts, which went into effect March 1, continues to ripple through other parts of the government, with a broader intervention nowhere in sight.

Look, I’m not going to be at Democrats who voted for this bill, despite the naked self-interest involved. Abandoning any part of sequestration is better than nothing, and the air traffic controllers who won’t be facing drastic cuts in their take home pay are no doubt grateful for this. Plus, our already struggling economy doesn’t need to lose a bunch of pointless money in terms of loss production and the inability to move goods efficiently that is caused by these delays. This relieved a small amount of needless suffering. Now it’s time to end the rest of it, you selfish congressional fucks.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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