WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tore into his colleagues on Thursday for their recent focus on delays to air travel caused by sequestration, saying it's shameful that the issue has gained such traction when military cuts have not.
"I'm terribly uncomfortable with the delays of FAA, I think it's a terrible thing ... But when we're looking at a virtual threat to our national security, we've got our priorities upside down," he said at a Christian Science Monitor event. "I am hellbent, if we are going to take care of some airline passengers, why don't we take care of our national security?"
There have been frequent reports in the past several days of long airline delays because of cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration, which senators say was disproportionately affected by across-the-board reductions under sequestration. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have urged the FAA to stop furloughs -- which began on Sunday -- so that normal air traffic can resume.
Members are now discussing potential legislation that would move $50 million in unused FAA funding from other areas to prevent the closure of air traffic control towers. White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a briefing on Wednesday that the administration "would be open to looking at" a measure to specifically address the FAA cuts, but would consider it "a band-aid measure."
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), also speaking at the Christian Science Monitor event, said he would support such a measure, but believes all of sequestration should be repealed.
McCain, meanwhile, said that while he would back a bill to stop sequestration from impacting the FAA, the cuts to defense spending must be addressed as well.
"It's criminal and scandalous that we are ignoring the effect of sequestration on our national security," he said. "Yeah, I'm glad to see all of the focus on whether we have to wait in line longer, or there's flight delays, but I wish to God Congress would sometimes focus on the threats to our national security."