Political Notebook

Obama calls congressional flight delay fix a ‘Band-Aid’

President Obama

Chris Kleponis/Pool/Getty Images

President Obama scolded lawmakers for helping the FAA while doing nothing to replace other cuts that he said harm federal employees.

WASHINGTON — President Obama said Saturday that the congressional fix for widespread flight delays is an irresponsible way to govern, but he is prepared to sign the legislation that lawmakers fast-tracked.

He said the bipartisan bill to end furloughs of air traffic controllers is a ‘‘Band-Aid’’ solution rather than a lasting answer to this year’s $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester.


The cuts have affected all federal agencies, and flight delays last week left thousands of travelers frustrated and furious and Congress feeling pressured to respond.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Saturday that it had suspended all employee furloughs and that air traffic facilities would begin returning to regular staffing levels over the next 24 hours.

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The FAA’s statement said the air traffic system would resume normal operations by Sunday evening.

‘‘Republicans claimed victory when the sequester first took effect, and now they’ve decided it was a bad idea all along,’’ Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

He singled out the GOP even though the bill passed with overwhelming Democratic support in both the House and Senate.


The president scolded lawmakers for helping the FAA while doing nothing to replace other cuts that he said harm federal employees, unemployed workers, and preschoolers in Head Start.

‘‘Maybe because they fly home each weekend, the members of Congress who insisted these cuts take hold finally realized that they actually apply to them, too,’’ Obama said.

Rushed through Congress with remarkable speed, the bill marked a shift for Democrats who had hoped the impact of the cuts would increase pressure on Republicans to reverse the broad cuts.

Republicans have rejected Obama’s proposal to replace the spending reductions with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.

‘‘There are some in the Obama administration who thought inflicting pain on the public would give the president more leverage to avoid making necessary spending cuts, and to impose more tax hikes on the American people,’’ said Representative Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania in the Republican address.

Elise Amendola/Associated Press/file

Injuries from a bike accident required that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer have shoulder replacement surgery.

Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the FAA could have averted the flight delays on its own by cutting costs elsewhere and rejiggering work schedules.

Breyer is recuperating after shoulder operation

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is in a Washington hospital after shoulder replacement surgery because of a bicycle accident.

Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Breyer, 74, is expected to make a full recovery after the operation Saturday.

Breyer injured his right shoulder in a fall Friday near the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The justice previously broke his collarbone in an accident in 2011 and sustained broken ribs and a punctured lung in a bicycle mishap in 1993, before he joined the court.

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