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White House urges Congress to avert looming spending cuts


10:58, February 23, 2013

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- White House officials on Friday said the looming government spending cuts slated to take effect on March 1 was not inevitable and it will hamper U.S. transportation services and economic growth.

The across-the-board automatic spending cuts, the so-called " sequester" in U.S. government budget language, will have a "very serious impact" on the transportation services that are critical to the traveling public and to the nation's economy, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned on Friday.

The Department of Transportation will need to cut nearly a billion U.S. dollars in its budget this year, which will affect dozens of its programs. Over 600 million dollars of these cuts will need to come from the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency that controls and manages airports, LaHood said at the regular White House press briefing.

If Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on a less austere debt reduction plan next week, roughly 85 billion dollars of spending cuts were set to hit various governmental departments this year starting on March 1, as agreed by Democrats and Republicans in January to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff."

"Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco and others could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours because we have fewer controllers on staff. Delays in these major airports will ripple across the country," LaHood told reporters.

The drastic government spending cuts was not inevitable and it will slow down U.S. economy that will have a ripple effect globally, U.S. President Barack Obama said during a meeting with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

With little momentum from GOP lawmakers to avoid the spending cuts, Obama has waged a public campaign including a Tuesday White House press conference to set up Republicans for blame if the government outlays cuts are to kick in.

The Obama administration remained "hopeful" to work with Congress and find a replacement plan of the sequester, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Friday.

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