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The Clamor for Special Sequester Deals

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
McCain said that while he supported the narrowly tailored FAA funding flexibility measure, he couldn’t understand the lack of emphasis on the Pentagon budget.

While the groups are pushing back against sequester cuts for funding far away from Washington, the NDD acronym stands for non-defense discretionary, a part of the federal budget largely subject to the appropriations process. The NDD sent a letter to members of Congress on Friday opposing the FAA flexibility legislation. The House passed the measure Friday without much opposition after Senate passage by unanimous consent Thursday night.

Of course, discretionary defense spending has been slashed through the sequester cuts as well, a point that Sen. John McCain sought to highlight as the FAA fix passed. The Arizona Republican said that while he supported the narrowly tailored FAA funding flexibility measure, he couldn’t understand the lack of emphasis on the Pentagon budget.

“It is shameful for us to make allowances for the FAA while doing nothing to stop the draconian cuts that are decimating our military today and putting our nation’s security in danger,” he said in a statement. “Dealing with the impacts of sequestration on a case-by-case basis does nothing to fix the underlying issue and prolongs this damaging policy.”

“While Congress gives flexibility to the FAA, our military aircraft don’t fly and our ships don’t sail,” McCain said, echoing comments he made Thursday while speaking off the cuff at a breakfast Thursday.

Hansen, whose résumé includes about 15 years at the aerospace and defense giant Boeing, echoed the comments of many House and Senate appropriators who have suggested part of the solution to the sequester’s “meat ax” cutbacks would be a return to regular appropriations bills.

“At some point in time, there needs to be some sort of reinstallation of regular order,” Hansen said. “It isn’t that we’re not going to have pain otherwise, but ... nobody would make these kind of decisions this way.”

The FAA situation was somewhat unique, since the agency had much of its budget funded by trust funds not subject to the sequester. The money to pay the air-traffic controllers will come from other FAA programs, particularly unspent funds for airport improvements. But in a sign of the times, even organizations pushing the FAA carve-out were not entirely happy.

“At a time when we should be modernizing our infrastructure to improve efficiency, capacity and U.S. global competitiveness, sequestration-related issues should not be solved on the backs of airports,” the U.S. Travel Association said in a statement Friday. “We urge the Department of Transportation to do everything in its power to find appropriate savings to fund air traffic controllers and avoid transferring funds away from critical airport infrastructure.”

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