NEWARK, NJ—Today, Congressmen Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) gathered today at Newark’s Liberty to speak out about the massive across the board spending cuts set to take effect just before midnight tonight and their pending impact on air travel and airport safety. The lawmakers noted that the crippling cuts caused by the so-called budget sequestration, which was automatically triggered on March 1st as a result of House Republicans’ refusal to negotiate a compromise on a spending package, will cause travelers significant delays at the nation’s airports and potentially put air travel safety at risk.
Significant budget cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) will cause the agencies to furlough workers and provide less staff to cover the critical services they provide.
“When I speak to folks about sequestration, they may not understand what the word means, but when they hear about $85 billion in across the board cuts to vital services, when they are facing layoffs, when they are being furloughed, the people in the Tenth District understand that it’s going to devastate working families and our middle class,” Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. said. “Not only will it affect our FAA, TSA, and CBP workers and their families, it’s going to hurt our local economies. Newark Airport plays a vital role in keeping a steady flow of commerce, but it is expected these massive cuts will lead to two or three hour lines, delayed travel, and cancelled flights. We can’t expect to grow our economy when travelers, businesses, and goods can’t get to their destinations on time. But these deep cuts don’t have to happen. Democrats have a balanced plan on the table that reduces our spending in a smart and responsible way, closes corporate tax loopholes, and asks the wealthiest few to pay their fair share. So it’s time for Washington to do what’s right by New Jerseyans. It’s what the people expect, and quite frankly, it’s what they deserve.”
“Since day one, I have warned that sequestration is bad policy. Yet regrettably, here we are today with this bad idea becoming a reality,” said Senator Menendez, who voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011. “For years now, Congress has been held hostage by a radical few who believe their view of the world, their vision of government, must be America’s vision. And this vision has time and again brought us to the brink of manufactured crises that threaten our economic recovery and middle-class Americans. And now, this vision could increase wait times and cause delays at our busiest travel hubs. This vision could compromise the security of our nation’s airports in a post 9/11 world. This vision could hurt those who work every day to make our skies and borders safe. And I do not believe this is the vision Americans have for our country. That’s why I will not stop working with the President and my colleagues to put in place a fair, reasonable, responsible alternative that does not put the burden of deficit reduction on our travelers, workers and the middle-class.”
“These looming senseless cuts will have devastating consequences for our state and nation,” said Pallone. “From air travel, to food safety, to law enforcement, to education, to Sandy recovery aid and so many other basic government functions, these across the board, slash and burn cuts will impact all Americans and likely add further insult to our already struggling economy. Here at Newark Liberty Airport, the cuts that will go into effect at the end of the day today illustrate the precise reason why I did not support this approach in Congress—we simply can’t afford to lose more services, especially now.”
"Speaker Boehner and Republicans in Congress have yet again allowed partisan politics to stand in the way of protecting America's middle class," said Rep. Pascrell. "Indiscriminate budget cuts could disrupt service right here at Newark Liberty Airport - already one of the most delayed in the country - while causing delays that will reverberate across the nation. Furthermore, after fighting for more than three months to pass a Sandy relief package, cuts to aid will pour salt on the wounds of those New Jersey residents that finally started to heal after the storm's devastation. The President has offered a balanced solution to replace the sequester and Republicans have shown zero interest in coming to the table to reach a compromise. Starting today, it's America's middle class that now have to suffer the consequences of their inaction."
The following is a list of services that will be impacted beginning today:
• Peak waiting times could grow to over four hours at Newark.
• U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), staff will have to reduce its work hours by the equivalent of over 5,000 border patrol agents and 2,750 for CBP officers.
• Screening and entry for those travelling to the United States will be delayed.
• Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be forced to cut more than $600 million, severely hurting its ability to perform its core functions.
• 47,000 FAA employees would be furloughed for approximately one day per pay period.
• Air traffic will be slowed in major cities, and delays and disruptions will happen across the country during summer travel season.
• Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will need to reduce its frontline workforce and furlough workers.
The Congressmen and Senator were joined by members of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union that represents TSA employees who work at Newark Liberty Airport. The AFGE members explained how planned furloughs and layoffs would result in longer lines at the air port and could potentially threaten passenger safety.