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Sequester: Obama, Congressional Leaders To Meet; Air Traffic Threatened

The White House says President Barack Obama will meet Friday with congressional leaders to discuss what to do about $85 billion in mandatory spending cuts.

FULL COVERAGE:Budget Sequester

Senator Mitch McConnell
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)

The top Democrat and Republican in both the House and Senate will attend. It’s the first face-to-face meeting between Obama and Republican leaders this year.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says it’s a chance to address ways to reduce government spending. He says Americans won’t accept more taxes as part of a deal to avert the cuts.

The across-the-board cuts are set to kick in on Friday, so the meeting will come after Congress has officially missed the deadline for averting the cuts.

Report: Spending cuts could force runway closures

Arrivals are displayed on a monitor as numerous flights were delayed or canceled at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Arrivals are displayed on a monitor as numerous flights were delayed or canceled at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Barry Williams/Getty Images)

Air traffic controllers are warning that automatic spending cuts could force some of the nation’s busiest airports to close runways, causing widespread flight delays and cancellations.

A report released Wednesday by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association predicts Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport will be forced to close one of its three runways because furloughs of controllers will leave too few to handle planes.

Instead of 126 landings per hour, there would be only 96 landings per hour, the report said. Hartsfield handles more passengers than any other airport in the world. The report said Houston’s Intercontinental and Chicago’s O’Hare airports may also have to close runways.

The report does not specifically the sequester’s effect at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The spending cuts are scheduled to go into effect on Friday, but furloughs won’t kick in until April.

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