It's going to be a crazy week ahead as both sides posture about sequestration, and the shape of the aviation system over the next year hangs in the balance.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today that warnings about extensive airport closures and delays are not a bluff, but he expressed optimism that there will be a compromise to avert $1.2 billion in cuts to the DOT’s fiscal 2013 budget.
“We are not making this up to put pain on the American people,” said LaHood, speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press TV show February 24.
If a compromise isn’t reached by March 1, LaHood said the DOT would begin to look at every FAA contract to see what could be cut, but will protect essential services.
Asked how sequestration would impact aviation security, LaHood said: “We will never compromise on safety. People are going to be safe flying.”
It’s hard to see how safety would not take a hit, though, given the DOT’s list of air traffic control centers that would have to be shut down.
And, even if travelers are safe, they could be subject to extensive delays.
LaHood argued that the crisis could be averted if both parties get together in Congress and compromise with President Obama this week before the deadline.
On the prospects of a compromise, LaHood said: “I’m optimistic about this.”
The full interview in three clips, from MTP: