The $85 billion in government spending cuts due to hit next week under sequestration is expected to take its toll on an unlikely industry — travel — as officials warned on Thursday of long lines, flight delays, and service reductions.
“Travel has the very real potential of becoming the face of the March 1 sequester cuts,” Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement published by Fox News.
“These across-the-board cuts may punish travelers with flight delays, long security lines at Transportation Security Agency checkpoints, and multi-hour waits to clear Customs and Border Protection,” he said.
Dow said the sequester cuts could also affect the industry’s overall economy.
“Travel has led the nation's economic recovery — generating more than 50 percent of all jobs created since the beginning of the recession,” he said in the statement. “The indiscriminate sequester cuts threaten to derail the travel-led recovery.”
More than $85 billion in government spending cuts are expected to take effect immediately on March 1. Over 10 years, the cuts would amount to $1.2 trillion.
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While President Barack Obama has sought to pressure Republicans by emphasizing how the broad reductions would cuts jobs for emergency workers and teachers, others are examining the cuts’ impact on the nation’s travel industry, Fox reports.
For instance, House Democrats said in a recent report that the Federal Aviation Administration “may shut down or severely reduce traffic at hundreds of lower-level federal and contract air traffic control towers,” Fox reports.
The Transportation Security Administration, the report said, “would reduce its frontline workforce, including a seven-day furlough for TSA screeners.”
This move would add an hour to wait times at some of the nation’s busiest airports, Fox reports.
In addition, Daniel Werfel, of the White House budget office, also testified to legislators last week that $600 million would be cut from the FAA under the sequester.
“A vast majority of their 47,000 employees will be furloughed for one day per pay period for the rest of the year,” Werfel said, according to Fox. “And, as importantly, this is going to reduce air-traffic levels across the country, causing delays and disruptions for all travelers.”
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