Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg warned Wednesday that a government shutdown would negatively impact air travel and that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would have to furlough thousands of employees.
Even a shutdown lasting for just a few days would mean the FAA would not hit its staffing and hiring targets for next year, Buttigieg said. It could force the FAA to immediately stop training new air traffic controllers and furlough another 1,000 controllers who are already in the training pipeline, according to the Transportation secretary.
“There is no good time for a government shutdown, but this is a particularly bad time for a government shutdown, especially when it comes to transportation,” Buttigieg said at a press conference on Wednesday. “The consequences would be disruptive and dangerous.”
A government shutdown could lead to “significant delays and longer wait times for travelers at airports across the country like there were during previous shutdowns,” the White House said last week in a press release.
Earlier this month, the FAA warned that the number of certified controllers at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control – a high-traffic airspace – “is still not sufficient to allow the FAA to handle normal traffic levels.”
“After everything we have been through, after all the disruptions to air travel especially the ones that we saw last year, we have finally seen cancellations and delays get back down to normal levels. In fact, we have seen cancellations go to a level now that is lower than it was before the pandemic,” Buttigieg said Wednesday.
Lawmakers in Congress are negotiating over a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that would extend funding on a short-term basis to allow negotiations over spending levels for the rest of fiscal year 2024 to play out and legislation to be passed.
House Republicans are divided over the duration of a CR and whether other provisions like border security measures, Ukraine funding and disaster aid should be attached. Senators have started crafting a bipartisan short-term CR, although the measure has not yet been introduced.
Any funding legislation will ultimately require bipartisan support to become law given Republican control of the House and the Democrats’ narrow majority in the Senate lacking the 60 votes needed to defeat a potential GOP filibuster.
Congress must pass a funding bill by Saturday at 11:59 p.m. ET in order to avoid a shutdown.
FOX Business’ Eric Revell contributed to this report.