flights

After more than a month of a government shutdown that has crippled working Americans, it finally is coming to an end after the Federal Aviation Administration grounded flights Friday.

Air travel has been significantly impacted throughout the shutdown. Air traffic controllers warned that the shutdown presented an “unprecedented” safety risk as it rounded the corner on the one month marker. TSA agents began to resign Thursday.

It was argued that grounding flights might be the only way to end the shutdown.

“There’s this talk going on that if the TSA workers would take a stand, would walk out, then the airlines would get to the president and he’d have to make a decision to stop the shutdown,” said TSA agent Cairo D’Almeida. “I know President Trump wouldn’t hesitate one second to get rid of the entire federal work force.”

Beyond passenger flights, the shutdown also crippled the Coast Guard. Guardsmen were the only military officers working without pay during the shutdown, and if they died in service while the shutdown persisted their families would receive no benefits.

But it was a cascade of delays and groundings on Friday that ultimately proved untenable.

The deal does not fund the border wall the President initially shut the government down for, nor does it fund the government for very long. Government will only be funded through February 15. And Trump did not rule out declaring a national emergency to build the wall after February 15.

The deal also ensures backpay for federal employees who were working without or were furloughed through the past 35 days, although the approximately one million federal contractors who were also unpaid during the shutdown will not receive backpay. Despite this, some impacts of the shutdown will linger: both in the debt amassed by those employees and the lapse in programs that will leave poor families struggling.

The damage suffered to credit ratings by federal employees also may have a lasting impact on how many employees will be eligible to maintain their security clearance.

Though there is no funding for the wall in Friday’s agreement, the February 15 deadline will loom as another potential breaking point depending on the willingness of parties to negotiate over a border wall that Americans don’t want.

The reprieve has finally come for a hobbled federal government, but a new countdown clock is just beginning.

 

Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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