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NJ Congressman Rips Obama Administration Over Sequester Bluster

Airplane (file / credit: clipart.com)

Airplane (file/credit: clipart.com)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The airline industry — so far — has not suffered ill effects from the automatic spending cuts.

Before the sequester took effect on March 1, President Barack Obama and other administration officials warned that the sequester could mean canceled flights, longer security lines and other hassles.

But South Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), who is the chairman of the House Aviation subcommittee, said that hasn’t come to bear.

“This is pretty puzzling because we can all think back to the President in the months of January and February telling everyone how, no pun intended, the sky was going to fall on us,” LoBiondo told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott.

The Federal Aviation Administration will cut funding to a few towers next week and air traffic controllers will be furloughed later this month in response to the sequester. But security lines for travelers have not become unruly, which was feared as the sequester loomed.

LoBiondo said the FAA could have managed the budget cuts better, but said the need to implement cuts in the first place is not the agency’s fault.

“You’ve got to go back, again, where essentially the President instructed the different departments not to prepare for sequester. He basically told them, ‘do not do anything.’ And in the case of the FAA, now we’re coming down to the last possible minute in the month of February and they’ve got to scramble to be able to make the dots connect and I think that this was avoidable,” LoBiondo told Scott.

LoBiondo contends the White House miscalculated its role in handling the sequester.

“It certainly can get worse if the administration wants it to,” said LoBiondo.

The Congressman added that despite arguments to the contrary, he argues that the administration is opting to propose big cuts rather than go into negotiations with a scalpel.

“I really believe this is Office of Management and Budget, this is the administration making sure that their prediction of some pain will come true because it doesn’t make sense out of almost $10 billion in an operating budget that they couldn’t find $485 million in some kind of deferred payments to avoid the furloughs,” LoBiondo told Scott.

The air traffic controller furloughs are set to begin on April 21, which could trigger longer lines at airports in New York and Chicago, according to the FAA Administrator.

But LoBiondo has said that the FAA has more flexibility to survive budget cuts than the administration has shown.