WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told The Daily Caller that his department is “making reductions everywhere” to deal with the sequester, including furloughing Federal Aviation Administration workers.
But less than seven months ago, LaHood said he was “very proud” of putting 65,000 people to work with $48 billion in federal stimulus funds — a figure that amounted to $738,461 per job. (RELATED VIDEO: LaHood boasts of DOT stimulus spending)
On Tuesday TheDC asked LaHood why his agency is closing as many as 238 air traffic control towers instead of cutting its $179 million travel budget.
“We’ve taken a very comprehensive approach here, and what we’ve done is we’ve looked at every contract. We have looked at every expense. We have looked at everything, and we are making reductions everywhere including in travel, and we are trying to save money wherever we possibly can,” LaHood said at the American Public Transportation Association Conference in Washington.
“But in the end,” said the newly penny-pinching LaHood, “the FAA represents 47,000 employees of our 55,000, of which 15,000 are air traffic controllers, and we have to get to $600 million, so we’re looking at all of the contracts, and we’re looking at every account, and we’re looking at every budget item, but in the end it’s the personnel where you can make some savings, and that’s the reason that we’re looking at these furloughs.”
In August 2012, however, he said the Transportation Department “spent $48 billion and we put 65,000 people to work in 15,000 projects in two years with no problems. I’m very proud of that. I know that the governors can spend this money because over two years we gave them $48 billion, they created 65,000 jobs in 15,000 projects. This is doable. We’re going to get the money out and get people to work.”
In order to reach $600 million in savings under the 2013 federal budget sequester, DOT has proposed shutting down control towers and furloughing FAA workers for one or two days every two weeks.