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‘Congress must do its job and fund the government’: Air travel would be disrupted

Rebecca Barnabi
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In two days, the United States government faces a shutdown because Congress will not have approved a funding deal.

Without an approved deal, delays at airports across the U.S. are possible when the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) current authorization expires.

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia issued joint statements on the need to fund the government and prevent an especially catastrophic shutdown for air travel.

Without action, more than 13,000 air traffic controllers and 50,000 Transportation Security Officers, along with thousands of other FAA and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel would be forced to work without pay, and important trainings and technology upgrades would stop.

“Every government shutdown is ill-timed, but a shutdown on the same day the FAA’s reauthorization lapses would be especially catastrophic for air travel. In Virginia alone, a shutdown would mean thousands of TSA officers and air traffic controllers will be forced to work without pay. We’ve seen in previous shutdowns the havoc that this can wreak for travelers, including long flight delays and extreme wait times at airports. An FAA reauthorization lapse would halt technology upgrades and the training of new air traffic controllers. This is a safety issue that is entirely preventable. It’s time for Congress to do its job and fund the government and continue other important work, including reauthorizing the FAA,” Warner and Kaine said.

Virginia is home to 1,913 TSA agents and 633 air traffic controllers who would be required to continue their critical work without pay until a funding deal is reached.

If the FAA’s authorization expires, the agency could miss out on $50 million a day in tax revenue to facilitate smooth and safe air travel experiences. Air traffic controller hiring and training process would also be disrupted, further slowing air traffic, even after a spending deal is reached. The FAA is typically reauthorized every five years.

A funding deal also affects 1.3 million servicemembers who would be forced to work without pay.

“For servicemembers, who already sacrifice so much in service to our country, this shutdown will be particularly devastating. In Virginia alone, 129,400 active-duty servicemembers will be forced to continue working without pay — a phenomenon that will undermine our national security and threaten the wellbeing of military families. Servicemembers should never be put in this situation. We urge our colleagues in the House of Representatives to put our military and our country before politics. Congress must do its job and fund the government,” Warner and Kaine said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.