Advocates slam Congress for 'misguided' FAA fix

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The House and Senate passed bills this week designed to end flight delays around the country caused by the sequester's furlough of air traffic controllers.

The Reducing Flight Delays Act will allow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to redirect funds toward the controllers' salaries and expenses.

Senate sponsor Susan Collins (R-Maine) said the bipartisan agreement will ease the sequester's burden on the public and the travel industry.

But groups with NDD United said flight delays are merely the most visible effect of the automatic budget cuts, not the most threatening.

"The full breadth of sequestration's devastation will become readily visible in the weeks and months ahead," the groups warned.

"Opportunities in medical research lost, public defenders furloughed, national parks closed, lab capacity to track outbreaks diminished … Waiting at the airport is frustrating, but food, shelter, and medication are issues of life and death."

The sequester went into effect March 1 and will cut an estimated $294 billion from non-defense discretionary spending by 2021.

President Obama is expected to approve the FAA fix, but White House spokesman Jay Carney downplayed the solution as "just a Band-Aid" when it comes to the sequester's range of cuts.

"The fact is, there is a broad variety of negative effects of sequester and this is one of them," Carney said of flight delays.

NDD United comprises health, housing, education, environmental, justice and other groups.