American travelers began to feel the bite of across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration this week, as the Federal Aviation Administration furloughed 1,500 air traffic controllers, prompting delays for hundreds of flights. By law, sequestration requires uniform cuts to every “program, project or activity” not explicitly exempted by Congress, including the FAA, and the Republican-led House was explicit about that in its report for fiscal year 2013 appropriations for the agency. President Obama, who opposes the cuts, nevertheless gets to decide some matters of timing, via powers given to the White House Office of Management and Budget under the law — and the furloughing of 10% of the nation’s 15,000 air traffic controllers is among the first budget reductions to take effect.

As the cuts’ impact worsens, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and White House adviser Valerie Jarrett — both of whom were honored Tuesday night at the TIME 100 gala in New York City — had strikingly different versions of who’s to blame.