As airlines face mounting flights delays due to sequester-related spending cuts that have furloughed air traffic controllers at major U.S. airports, the White House is moving to find the money to stem the problem before frustrated fliers can blame President Barack Obama.
Since the cuts went into effect on Sunday, airlines have struggled to handle delayed and canceled flights and rising customer irritation. Analysts worry that disruption to the nation’s air travel system could hurt an already struggling economy. Meanwhile, republicans in Congress have upbraided the president for not adjusting the sequester cuts to avoid harming needed services, accusing the administration of using the cuts as a political stunt, Reuters noted.
Facing a potential backlash, the administration is backing a measure advanced by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that would leverage reduced spending from troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan to offset funds cut by the sequester.
GOP leaders in Congress have denounced the measure as a bookkeeping trick and called for the president to target sequester cuts at specific, non-essential services, instead of applying them equally across all services.
A number of airlines, including Delta (NYSE:DAL), Southwest (NYSE:LUV) and US Airways (NYSE:LCC) say the the impact of continued flight delays could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.
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