White House: Flight delays show why sequester was 'never meant to be law'

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Republicans have accused the FAA of purposely inflicting delays on airline passengers to score political points.

Prior to the implementation of the sequester, the FAA warned that the automatic budget cuts would result in flight delays because it would have to furlough air traffic controllers and close flight towers.

The agency has released a list of 149 air traffic control towers it intends to close in June. The facilities marked for closure are towers where the FAA contracts with private companies to monitor flights.

Carney backed up the FAA's assertion that it could not avoid furloughs on Monday.

"The FAA has already done what it could to mitigate the effect of the sequester," Carney said, noting a hiring freeze and cost cutbacks had already been implemented.

Republicans tried Monday to pin blame for the potential increase in flight delays squarely on Obama.

"No one likes sequestration, but FAA is ignoring authority it has and making it as painful as possible for air travelers #obamaflightdelays," House Speaker John Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck tweeted.

Additionally, airlines have launched a campaign to direct passengers to blame the Obama administration and Congress for flight delays.

“Send a message to the White House, the Department of Transportation, the FAA and Congress, and tell them: 'Don't ground America!'" the website, DontGroundAmerica.com, says. “Tell Congress and the [Obama] administration that you oppose FAA-imposed flight delays.”

The FAA has said that it will have to furlough air traffic controllers for up to 11 days before the end of the 2013 fiscal year in September.

The agency has admitted the furloughs could lead to more flight delays.

“We will only allow the amount of air traffic that we can handle safely to take off and land,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a Senate committee last week. “This means travelers should expect delays."


-Justin Sink contributed to this report.