New York's LaGuardia Halts Flights as Shutdown Drags on
CAPITOL HILL —
Incoming flights to New York's LaGuardia Airport were delayed due to staffing issues Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration said, as the U.S. government shutdown drags into its 35th day.
The FAA also said that departure delays at LaGuardia, as well as Philadelphia and Newark airports, are due to air traffic control staffing shortages.
Air traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents are among hundreds of thousands of government employees missing their second consecutive paycheck Friday as U.S. President Donald Trump and Congress could not reach an agreement on funding the government.
Trump says he would accept a deal to at least temporarily re-open the federal government if it contained a "pro-rated down payment" on the U.S.-Mexico border wall he has sought for two years.
He told reporters at the White House Thursday the country has no choice but to build a wall to keep out what he says is a "virtual invasion" by criminals, human traffickers, and drugs.
Trump said he blames himself for the large number of immigrants who want to enter the United States, crediting himself for a strong economy and what he says is a record number of people employed.
But he said anyone who wants to come to the U.S. has to do so legally.
Senate bills fail
Senate votes fail
Earlier Thursday the Senate failed to end the shutdown — the longest in U.S. history — voting down two competing proposals that would have ended the impasse over funding for the wall.
The Republican measure incorporating Trump's $5.7 billion request for wall construction, in addition to limited immigration reforms and government funding through the current fiscal year, failed to advance by a 50-47 vote.
Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called the Republican bill "a pragmatic compromise that could end this impasse right away. The choice is absolutely clear and the nation is watching."
McConnell emphasized the Republican plan was the only one that would have received the president's signature. But Senate Democrats pushed back against the White House offer to find a way out of the impasse.
"If it were a compromise, the president would have talked to us about it," said Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia. He went on to say that policy disagreements over immigration could be worked out, but "the difference that's hard to resolve is a party and a president who believe in government shutdowns."
The Democratic proposal also went down by a vote of 52-44, despite pulling 6 Republican votes. The measure contained no border security or immigration provisions and was designed to reopen shuttered federal agencies and provide a two-week window for congressional leaders and the White House to negotiate a deal on immigration.
Both proposals required 60 votes to advance in the 100-member chamber. Republicans have a narrow 53-47 Senate majority.
House votes to reopen government
Congressional action is not limited to the Senate. The Democrat-led House of Representatives has passed multiple bills restoring federal spending authority but omitting wall funding from all of them.
A growing number of lawmakers of both parties have said compromise is the only way to end the political stalemate and reopen the government.
"It is long overdue for all sides to come together, to engage in constructive debate and compromise to end this standoff," Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said. "Shutdowns represent the ultimate failure to govern and should never be used as a weapon to achieve an outcome."
Another $0 paycheck
The shutdown has furloughed 800,000 government employees, with at least 420,000 forced to continue working without pay. The remainder have been sent home, some of whom have been forced to look for temporary work elsewhere to help pay their household bills. All are set to miss their second biweekly paycheck on Friday.
Some government services have been curtailed as about 10 percent of airport security agents ordered to work have instead called in sick. Some food inspections have been cut back, and museums and parks are closed. Federal courts could run out of money by the end of the month.
Trump said he understands that people need to keep their pantries full. He says he "loves and respects" federal workers and appreciates the work they do. But he did not try to explain a comment Thursday by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Trump Aides Struggle to Show Some Shutdown Empathy
Lack of empathy questioned
Ross, who is a multimillionaire, told CNBC television he cannot understand why a furloughed federal worker would have to turn to a food bank for help when he can simply take out a loan from a bank or credit union.
His remarks followed those by President Trump's daughter-in-law Lara who said Wednesday that missed paychecks and empty wallets are "a little bit of pain."
The Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, called the comments a "let them eat cake attitude."