U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says he has started to hear from Illinoisans on the effects of sequestration. Durbin says Downstate airports would be hit as cuts to air traffic controllers are likely to happen. “Let me give you five communities where the FAA has announced that they’re going to start closing down the towers because they have to cut back on air traffic controllers. It’s a real concern here,” he said.
Click here for summary
The airports in question are Bloomington, Decatur, Marion, Peoria and Springfield. Durbin also has heard concerns from communities on the effects to educational programs such as Head Start. “They’re cutting back,” Durbin said. “I already got the notice that a number of [communities] are cutting back in the programs that are being offered so thousands of kids are basically being phased out of the Head Start program.”
Durbin says rumors of those on the GI Bill being affected are false. He says Congress specifically kept veterans’ services out of sequestration but does admit there are some other concerns that his office and others are currently investigating.
“My fear is that we didn’t look at every possible angle,” Durbin said. “Last week somebody raised the question, what about the grants that are given to homeless veterans? Are they protected from sequestration? We’re getting an answer on that right now, but the initial intent was to avoid the veterans’ programs completely.”
As for when lawmakers may try to repeal parts of sequestration, Durbin says it could come this month when talks begin over the continuing resolution, which funds government in lieu of a budget. It expires at the end of this month. Durbin says talks of changing sequestration may come up at that time.