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U.S. Budget Cuts Would Result in Hours-Long Airport Waits

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Hours-long delays at U.S. airports may result if Congress and President Barack Obama’s administration don’t agree to stop automatic budget cuts at two Homeland Security Department agencies, according to a U.S. House analysis.

The Transportation Security Administration would reduce its front-line workforce, including seven-day furloughs for airport screeners, Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee said in a report today.

Customs and Border Protection, which handles security checks for passengers arriving in the U.S. on international flights, also wouldn’t be able to maintain staffing levels, resulting in furloughs of between 12 days and 14 days, the lawmakers said.

“At the busiest airports, the increase in peak airport wait times would regularly reach three or more hours,” the report stated.

Next month’s deadline for the cuts to take effect marks another fiscal showdown between Obama and congressional Republicans. Without a deal to avoid automatic cuts, $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, known as sequestration, will take effect.

In a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee released yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the budget cuts would affect aviation security, roll back border security and hamper disaster response times.

The CBP cuts would affect the agency’s ability to collect revenue owed to the U.S. government, Napolitano said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Plungis in Washington at jplungis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net

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