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Hultgren: White House playing politics with flight delays

U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-14) issued the following news release Tuesday:

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Randy Hultgren (IL-14) released the following statement on the airline delays the Obama Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are now implementing as a result of the President’s sequester.

"The politically-motivated furloughs of FAA personnel are causing massive delays in air travel and needlessly disrupting the lives of travelers across the country," Hultgren said. "Just like cancelling White House tours, this is yet another cynical and calculated move by a President more interested in playing politics than putting the best interests of the American people first. It is callous for the White House to use travelers, air traffic controllers and other airline personnel across the country as pawns in a political chess match."

Hultgren, a former member of the Aviation Subcommittee during the 112th Congress, cited the following specific concerns stemming from White House policy causing flight delays:

• FAA furloughing most employees for at least one day per pay period between the end of April and the end of September - including essential air traffic controllers.

• Air traffic controllers are frontline safety professionals who maintain a safe and efficient national airspace. Controller staffing should always be based on traffic flow demands, safety and efficiency - NOT politics.

• While other federal agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Customs and Border Protection (CPB), Meat Inspectors (USDA) and Bureau of Prisons (DOJ) have taken steps to avoid furloughs for essential operational personnel, the FAA does not believe they have been given the same flexibility by the White House.

• However, aviation industry officials sought independent legal counsel who concluded the FAA already has the existing legal authority to avoid furloughs. This heightens credible suspicion that the furloughs are politically-motivated and can be avoided.

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