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April 23, 2013

White House on flight delays: Not our fault

The White House responded to criticism lodged against the Obama administration this week as airline flights were delayed in New York, Charlotte and Southern California with a simple message:

It's Congress' fault.

"These delays are a result of the sequester that Republicans insisted take place," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "But let's be clear about the actions the FAA has taken and the actions that it cannot take because of the way the budgets are structured and the way that the law imposing the sequester is written."

Carney said the Department of Transportation is required by law to cut about $1 billion between now and the end of September. That's $637 million from the FAA.

"The FAA has initiated a series of cost-saving measures, both personnel and non-personnel related, including a hiring freeze, restrictions on travel, termination of certain temporary employees, and reductions to contracts, among other savings," Carney said. "But the fact is, 70 percent of the FAA's operations budget is personnel, so there is simply no way to avoid furloughs."

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