Tweed Employees: Reopen Government

Christopher Peak PhotoA longtime Federal Aviation Administration employee, who’s been working without pay to keep planes flying into Tweed-New Haven Airport, asked Congressional Republicans Friday to start doing their job and reopen the government.

Dennis Amato, a 27-year electronics systems technician who maintains the airport’s weather detectors, navigational aids, surveillance radar and other equipment, was joined by a U.S. senator and a mayor at the airline check-in counter to blast the federal government shutdown.

“Put us back to work. We’re dedicated employees who show up to work every day and make it safe to travel,” Amato said. “They should perhaps make it illegal to shut the government down in the future.”

The federal government has been partially closed since Dec. 22, because of an impasse over President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion to lengthen an existing barrier at the southern border. House Democrats passed a bill to reopen the government, but Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to bring it to the floor.

Friday marks three weeks since the shutdown began; Saturday will make it the longest in history. Nearly 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed; Congress has voted to ensure they receive back pay.

Locally, that has meant a diminished workforce at the federal building on Orange Street, at the F.B.I. headquarters on State Street, and at the Coast Guard station in the East Shore, said Mayor Toni Harp. Eateries downtown have already noticed they’re losing business, she said.

The situation could worsen if food stamps, school lunches, housing subsidies and other safety-net programs stop processing payments, Harp added. She called recipients of those services “innocent victims of Oval Office obstinance.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said that Trump’s proposed out —  declaring a “national emergency” to reappropriate money intended for disaster recovery towards the border wall —  will not survive a legal challenge.

“I don’t think the courts will allow him to do that. It would be illegal and unconstitutional to try to break a legislative stalemate by declaring a national emergency.” he said. “For the sake of the future of American democracy, I hope that the president does not illegally declare an emergency, simply because he can’t get Congress to agree to build a border wall that a majority of Americans don’t want.”

Murphy added that he’d be willing to discuss putting more money towards border security after the government is reopened.

“I and many of my Democratic colleagues will be happy to talk to [Trump] about border security, but we are not going to let these T.S.A. employees, our food inspectors and F.B.I. agents be used as hostages in order to get what he wants from Congress. This shutdown needs to end, then we can sit down and talk about anything that the president wants to talk about.”

One traveler who’d just touched down from Dallas argued that Democratic politicians are framing the issue the wrong way.

Trotting out stories of unpaid government workers being unable to afford childcare or medical bills just showed that the country needs more robust social-welfare programs, argued Larissa Martinez, a Yale student and Unidad Latina En Accion activist.

“I feel like all they want to do is blame Trump, but the flaws in the system were not all created by him,” Martinez said, after asking Murphy why he wasn’t pushing for better pay during the press conference. “If they’re living paycheck to paycheck, what are you doing about it?”

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posted by: wendy1 on January 11, 2019  5:25pm

This our miserable dysfunctional life with thiw president, an insane clown, a senile republican.  Yes Dorothy, the wheel came before the wall.  Yeah let’s talk medieval….

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 11, 2019  9:02pm

If these workers want to get paid.Then they should stay home.Then I bet you this shut down would end in a heart beat.

posted by: 1644 on January 12, 2019  5:45am

Every passenger pays a post 9/11 security fee.  Why aren’t these fees being used to pay TSA personnel, just as FDA drug fees are used to pay FDA drug trial personnel, and national Park fees will be used to pay park personnel?

posted by: boxerct on January 12, 2019  9:35am

2 records were broken!  This is now the longest government shutdown in history, and Mayor Harp came to the East Shore twice in less than 6 months!

posted by: Noteworthy on January 12, 2019  10:30am

Give Me A Break Notes:

1. Chris Murphy should not be in New Haven on Friday, he should be in Washington DC helping to end the stalemate, not doing as he has done for weeks now, pontificating and posing.

2. First - there is zero reason for an omnibus budget bill. Each department should have its own hearing, its own budget bill and then we wouldn’t be having this problem.

3. Refusing to negotiate so Murphy and the dems can play who has the bigger balls is a circular argument.

4. What we have here is a broken immigration system - from judges, to officers, to deportation strategy, to border security that includes a barrier, technology and other tools, to efficient asylum hearings. It needs to be fixed - all of it.

5. Chris Murphy: Do your job. Holding press conferences on Mondays and Fridays is not in your description.

posted by: LookOut on January 12, 2019  3:50pm

So we have Harp - who can’t do anything about the stalemate in Washington - and Murphy - who refuses to do anything about the stalemate in Washington - engaging in PR stunt at the airport.  It’s sad that we are paying them to do this crap rather than do their jobs. 

For all of Trump’s faults, at least he’s in office and doing his job during the impasse.  Congressmen like Murphy and McConnell, who aren’t even in DC while congress is in session, should be run out of office.

posted by: boxerct on January 12, 2019  7:44pm

Congress is not in session, they all went home on Friday, so Murphy is exactly where he should be, and there is nothing he can do unless and until Mitch allows a vote on the budgets from the house, which Mitch refuses to do.  This falls squarely at the feet of the president and the republican senate.  The democratic house has passed several spending bills, but the senate majority leader won’t allow a vote.  It’s obstructionism and attempted blackmail, and there’s never cause to negotiate with blackmailers.

posted by: LookOut on January 13, 2019  1:37am

boxerct: see the link below for the congressional calendar.  Both houses were in session on Friday.  I’m not blaming one party over the other - Mitch also bailed.  But Murphy has no business staging a PR stunt.  That’s not his job.  Passing a bill that the has no chance of getting approval from the Senate or the President is also a PR stunt - it is not legislating.

https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/roll-calls-2019-congressional-calendar

posted by: Sean O'Brien on January 13, 2019  6:49am

Another PR stunt that’s intended to be an ad for the airport - as the appeal is in the 2nd circuit, Larsen is jumping ship, and the CT airport authority seems to be lining up to take over. Tweedies are over on Facebook with hyperbole about “armageddon” for the airport.

No doubt the changing political landscape will be utilized for another harassment campaign by City Hall against the Cove, East Shore, and East Haven.

posted by: Noteworthy on January 13, 2019  9:31am

Boxer: Predictable response. Just because there isn’t a committee hearing, a vote to be cast is not an excuse to run home and spend every Monday and Friday holding press conferences and posing with issues. Are you suggesting there is no work to be done in DC? No colleague to cajole? No reason to develop some compromise? That’s just silly. And no, not every member of Congress runs home. And his staff is certainly there and he can access immigration experts. There is an immigration problem. Murphy needs to develop a compromise or participate in one instead of using an issue to play politics.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on January 13, 2019  7:19pm

1644, fair question. But I can’t think of any substantive or political reason why TSA wouldn’t use all available revenues to pay for screeners and other essential staff. The implication is that the money from the 9/11 fees has, for the time being, been spent.

posted by: redman on January 14, 2019  8:53am

It’s easy to reopen the government, take 5 billion from the 50 billion dollars we waste on foreign aid and use it to secure our border. Done.

posted by: manofthepeople on January 14, 2019  12:23pm

Lets talk about framing….

In order to reopen the government 1/10th of a percent of last years budget needs to be allocated towards securing our borders. The fact that a democrat elected congress is forcing a shutdown over this when the president and top border officers are telling the country that this money is needed is childish.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on January 14, 2019  1:33pm

Whoa! Isn’t Mexico supposed to be paying for the wall?

posted by: James Sunderland on January 14, 2019  6:09pm

Man of the People - the shutdown began before the democrat voted congress were even sworn in. They’ve put forward several budgets that Mcconnell refuses to call to vote on. Several of you say “appropriate money for border security,” but a wall, which is what is being demanded, is not the answer.

posted by: 1644 on January 15, 2019  8:44am

Murphy and Harp (and Tweed) made the WSJ! (in video clip)
https://www.wsj.com
Kevin: I suspect our security fews are not segregated in a special, unappropriated fund but dumped into a general fund, and need to be appropriated to be spent.  The security fee was enacted specifically to support TSA airport screeners, which had previously been private security hired by airlines.  Murphy could be working on a plan to ensure that these fees flow easily to their intended recipients, and that they are sufficient to pay for the needed services.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on January 15, 2019  4:32pm

1644, I think your first sentence is correct, and that you have thus answered your initial question. If the 9/11 fees go into a general fund under current law, it would take legislation to earmark them. FWIW, my (fuzzy) recollection is that the 9/11 fees support a number of air safety programs, not just the screeners.