Transportation secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican, scheduled a last-minute appearance on CNN’s State of the Union to warn of the impact the sequester would have on air travel. Furloughs of air traffic controllers, he said, would cause widespread delays and inconveniences.
LaHood placed the blame for the current state of affairs squarely on the shoulders of the Republicans. “I’m a Republican…they need to come to the table with a proposal, which frankly they haven’t done,” he said, “while the president has, the Republicans haven’t.” In fact, Congress in May passed a bill that would replace sequester’s cuts to defense with cuts to domestic discretionary spending programs such as food stamps and Medicaid. Asked for his response to LaHood’s remarks, Senator John McCain, who appeared on the show after him, said, “Shame on Ray LaHood.”
Pressed by Crowley, who pointed out that, while domestic flights are down 27 percent from pre-9/11 levels, the Federal Aviation Administration’s budget has increased, LaHood responded, “Budgets go up and down.”
His appearance would seem to have been spurred by the administration’s decision to lift the gag rule it had imposed on its Cabinet, prohibiting them from discussing the sequester’s fallout.