ICYMI: Secretary Pete Buttigieg Warns of Harmful Impacts to Transportation and Basic Government Services as Fringe House Republicans Threaten to Shut Down Government
Air Traffic Controller hiring and training would stop, and Federal employees, including servicemembers, air traffic controllers, and TSA Officers would be forced to work without pay
Washington, DC — With just hours left to avoid a Republican government shutdown, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has made clear the harm this shutdown would cause, from work stopping at the Department of Transportation, to Federal employees, including military servicemembers, air traffic controllers, and more being forced to work without a paycheck. Even a few days of a shutdown could set back efforts to hire and train air traffic controllers, just as we turn the corner on a years-long backlog to fully staff the nation’s air traffic control towers and bring the flight cancellation rate down to even lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Watch Secretary Buttigieg’s news conference here.
Read a factsheet on the impacts to air travel here.
Additional coverage is below:
Buttigieg explained. “To be clear, there’s no good time for a government shutdown, but now, in particular, would be disruptive when we can least afford it.”
The New York Times: Biden Administration Warns That Government Shutdown Could Disrupt Air Travel
A shutdown could also disrupt the government’s efforts to address an existing shortage of air traffic controllers, which has already resulted in cutbacks to flight schedules at airports in the New York City area. The coronavirus pandemic forced a pause in training for new controllers at the Federal Aviation Administration’s academy in Oklahoma City, drying up the pipeline of new workers, and a shutdown would put a halt to training once again.
“Especially when it comes to transportation, the consequences would be disruptive and dangerous,” Buttigieg said at a press conference.
Past federal government shutdowns caused “significant delays and longer wait times for travelers”, the White House said.
“We’ve obviously seen a lot of disruptions to air traffic, especially this past year. Some of those are caused by weather, some of those were caused by airlines, but a factor can be availability of air traffic control staffing,” Buttigieg said at a news conference. “A shutdown lasting a few days could mean we will not hit our staffing and hiring targets next year.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday that air travel will remain safe in a shutdown, but that the training of new air traffic controllers will stop and 1,000 trainees will be furloughed. Long before this week’s deadline, airlines were already been complaining that a shortage of air traffic controllers has been causing flight delays and cancellations.
Even a short shutdown could jeopardize hiring and staffing targets for next year because of the complexity of the department’s hiring and training processes, he told reporters on Wednesday, just three days away from the end of the fiscal year.
“Think about everything we ask of our soldiers, airmen, our Marines and sailors. And the idea that they’re not getting a paycheck makes absolutely no sense,” said Buttigieg.
“It would stop us from being able to hire new air traffic controllers, which is something we urgently need to do because of gaps in our staffing goals, and create all kinds of havoc not just in transportation but really across all of the services that Americans count on their federal government to be able to provide every day,” said Buttigieg.