Sequester relief: Air travelers aren't the only ones hurt by the cuts

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Congress has passed, and President Barack Obama is expected to sign, emergency legislation that will spare air travelers from further inconvenience -- and potential peril -- caused by the budget sequester. The measure averts mandatory furloughs of air traffic controllers, which resulted in major flight delays this month, by shifting money earmarked for airport improvements.

Unfortunately, this example of prompt, bipartisan cooperation in Washington has not extended into finding solutions to the other pressing problems stemming from the sequester. There are big, automatic, across-the-board cuts in domestic and defense spending that are causing harm to plenty of other Americans. Where is the concern for them on Capitol Hill or in the White House?

The administration properly complained that the air-travel bill "does not solve the bigger problem" of sequestration. But the Democrats and the Republicans did little else to push forward on efforts to address the broader budget legislation.

There will be no equally quick action to address the sequester's effect on Head Start, which will remove 70,000 children from quality preschool education programs. Lawmakers left for a recess without giving much thought to the damage they've done to programs that feed hungry children and old people, and provide financial aid and jobs to keep college students in school.

The automatic cuts are jeopardizing programs that care for and vaccinate children, conduct vital medical research, test for HIV, treat drug and alcohol abuse, help victims of domestic violence, retrain workers, prevent crime and protect the environment and the safety of the nation's food supply.

Lawmakers and the president must agree on budget reform measures that would replace the sequester, but they appear in no hurry to do so. In the meantime, they need to end the suffering the sequester is causing for all Americans, just as they found a way to protect the safety of air travelers.


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