Va. Sen. Warner: Flying public ‘less safe’ because of partial shutdown

ARLINGTON, Va. — Virginia Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine say the partial government shutdown is not only depriving furloughed employees and contractors of a paycheck — it’s also making air travel more dangerous.

“Americans who are flying today are less safe than what our standards have been, because these folks are not at work,” said Warner on Thursday, standing with air traffic controllers and union representatives for Transportation Security Administration workers and flight attendants.

Hundreds of thousands of air travel employees deemed essential to public safety have been working without getting paid. Friday, federal employees are expected to miss a second paycheck due to the shutdown.

“We’re going to work today understanding that the layers of security that need to be there, that were put in place after 9/11, when the TSA was created, are not there,” said Sarah Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants.

Nelson said that the airline safety industry is operating below full strength — “without the integration of the intelligence of the FBI, who is also on furlough right now, and the cybersecurity members of DHS, who are also on furlough right now.”

Warner said, “Maintaining the air traffic safety, with the volume of air traffic coming into airports is stressful enough, without having to worry about whether you’re going to be able to pay your mortgage or your kid’s tuition.”

Warner and Kaine repeatedly chided President Donald Trump “for not caring enough” to sit down and listen to how the shutdown is affecting those who work to ensure air safety.

The TSA and Federal Aviation Administration have said the shutdown is not affecting air travel safety.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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