February 24th, 2013
09:50 AM ET
10 years ago

Controllers must be cut in a week, LaHood says

(CNN) - The Department of Transportation will have no choice but to cut staffing of air traffic controllers if the upcoming forced spending cuts take effect, the agency's boss said Sunday, defending against allegations that the warnings are merely bluster to help the Obama administration force a deal with congressional Republicans.

As part of the forced cuts, which total $85 billion for the entire government, the Federal Aviation Administration will be required to slash $600 million from its budget. Appearing at the White House on Friday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned those cuts would result in major delays at American airports.

Pressed by CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on Sunday why those cuts must result in delayed flights, LaHood explained that air traffic controllers consumed a substantial part of his agency's resources.

"The largest number of employees at DOT is at FAA, of which the largest number are FAA controllers," LaHood said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"We're going to try and cut as much as we possibly can out of contracts and other things that we do," he continued. "But in the end, there has to be some kind of furlough of air traffic controllers, and that will also begin to curtail or eliminate the opportunity for them to guide planes in and out of airports."

LaHood, who was a Republican congressman from Illinois before joining Obama's administration, is the last member of the GOP in the Obama Cabinet. Asked why he was brought to the White House briefing room Friday to address reporters, he said: "I would describe my presence here with one word: Republican."

Asked Sunday if he thought Republicans were solely to blame for the stalemate over the forced spending cuts, LaHood alleged that members of his party were unwilling to negotiate with the president.

"I'm a Republican," he said. "My audience is trying to persuade my former colleagues that they need to come to the table with a proposal, which frankly they haven't done. While the president has, the Republicans haven't."

One former colleague disagreed.

“Shame on Ray LaHood,” Sen. John McCain, also appearing on “State of the Union,” said with a laugh. McCain, R-Arizona, pointed to an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post by the journalist Bob Woodward pinning the origin of the forced spending cuts on the White House.

Filed under: FAA • Ray LaHood
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    This Republican plan to further obstruct America's progress will cost us around 750,000 jobs and should send the housing market back to the toilet. As they work only to protect the "job creators" (i.e. their rich sugar daddies) one has to ask "where are those jobs they should have created?". They've had the Bush tax cuts and prices for everything (including loans) have been depressed. Where are the jobs? Why didn't they seize the opportunities and invest? It appears the rich simply sat on their wealth and the manufacturing capabilities went offshore. We should protect their fortunes why?

    February 24, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. HenryMiller

    "The Department of Transportation will have no choice but to cut staffing of air traffic controllers if the upcoming forced spending cuts take effect..."

    Yeah, right, no choice.

    I was going to look at the FAA's budget, but, guess what, it appears to be on the web only as a PDF and the PDF appears to be locked. I wonder why that is...

    This "no choice" drivel is just what government agencies do to punish people for threatening to cut their budgets–they identify the most public, most useful, thing they do and threaten to cut it just to cause the greatest possible inconvenience and, in this case, the greatest possible danger to the public. It's like towns where, when people vote down a tax increase, the mayor starts threatening to close fire stations rather than cut back on the Parks and Recreation department.

    The FAA does a lot of stuff that could easily be put on hold–putting up new towers at small airports, replacing old-but-still-serviceable radars and navigation equipment, and so on. But that won't inconvenience very many people, so they threaten the high-profile stuff instead.


    February 24, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  3. enuff

    Remember... Boehner got 98% of what he wanted. Now he has got to deal with the people aspect of the problem.

    February 24, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  4. Evergreen

    We already have too many people out of work or under employed. How does adding more jobless people help the economy?

    February 24, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  5. vic , nashville ,tn

    "Come March 1, Head Start Stands To Lose more Than $400 Million Of Its Nationwide” CNN money after reading this article I lost hope
    Yes we are denying education for our kids. We are putting price tag on education SHAME

    February 24, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  6. Anonymous

    "Remember... Boehner got 98% of what he wanted...."

    Yes he did. And now his little stooges can do nothing more than whine and pout and finger-point. Reminds me of those who know full well why this country crashed in 2007, and still blame the man who hadn't yet taken the oath of office for the ensuing disaster. Republican hypocrisy at its best.

    February 24, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. rs

    End of the GOP in 5 days. Wrecking the economy again will run their 14% approval down to....?

    February 24, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. Randy, San Francisco

    While the 99% are waiting at long security lines, they will think about Speaker Boehner's rich 1% friends breezing quickly to their private jets with no hassles.

    February 24, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. george

    DOT has 58,000 employees traffic controllers number between 11 to 12 thousand. I think this Secretary might be stretching the truth a bit about immediately having to lay off controllers. Even if the number of controllers is cut by 5% at most that would be only 600 controllers. And common sense would dictate that controllers would be cut using some kind of guidelines about how many flights are in and out of an airport and how many controllers are need for that airport. Of course the controllers are unionized so I would think the "last hired, first fired" rule would be in effect so the number would come from the ranks of relatively inexperienced controllers. In my mind , LaHood, is just another minion of the Obama regime lying and trying to scare the public with his lies.

    February 24, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  10. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Aw Humm,
    You know what? I bet all the people that have to fly will make adjustments !! They will figure out how to get there just fine ! I understand Henry Ford had farms where when the workers weren't building automobiles they could grow food. How many people need to jump on a Airplane and go somewhere?? But, maybe the sky is falling.

    February 24, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  11. rs

    Good. Perhaps the long lines will cause Congress Creatures to stay in Washington, and do their jobs.

    February 24, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  12. Halina

    Why should a select few get laid off, and the public suffer from reduced servive? Nobody needs to get laid off, if the employer cuts evryone's salary by the relatively small percentage of the required budget adjustment...

    February 24, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Facts don't Lie

    so we have a Republican saying this? How long before Rand Paull and FoxNews come out and call him a "liar" as they have done the president? Ok I'm waiting.............

    February 24, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Ancient Texan

    The sky is NOT falling. A 2.34% cut in spending of proposed INCREASE in spending from the previous year of $ 3.6 trillion spending isn't going to cut enough to even be noticed, except in defense spending. Giving the Pentagon the ability to move funds from one priority to another would solve the problems there.

    February 24, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. Name

    Who pays for all of the money that we are borrowing to pay for all of these services?

    February 24, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |