Buttigieg says government shutdown would impact air travel

With the federal government nearing a shutdown at the end of the month, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is expressing concern that a government shutdown could affect air travel. 

Buttigieg said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that passengers could notice the shutdown. 

“A shutdown would include, just in the transportation side alone, shutting down air traffic control training at the exact moment when the country recognizes the need for more, not less, ATC staffing and when we have finally got cancellations back at or below normal rates,” Buttigieg said. 

Buttigieg noted that air traffic control workers, like other essential federal employees, would be forced to work without pay initially. Historically, federal employees receive backpay once a shutdown ends. 

“They’re under enough stress as it is doing that job without having to come into work with the added stress of not receiving a paycheck,” Buttigieg told CNN. 

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has noted that there has been some disagreement among Republican members in the House over appropriation bills. With some Republicans holding out on reaching an agreement, McCarthy is trying to cobble together enough support within the party to pass government funding. 

“I don’t think anyone wins a shutdown,” McCarthy said at a press conference last week. “What does a shutdown do? It stops paying our troops. How do you have more leverage in that situation? I’ve watched shutdown after shutdown. Everybody loses. I know the American public wants to have their border secure, they want to limit the runaway spending. They want to end the woke. In government, the only way to achieve that is to pass the appropriations bills that we passed out of committee.”

Buttigieg said on Sunday that proposed budget cuts would make it harder for the Federal Aviation Administration to modernize its systems. He added a shutdown would also halt the progress being made by the FAA following a system outage in January 2023 that caused the first nationwide ground stop since 2001. 

“A shutdown would slow down our progress modernizing technology at the exact moment when we need to do it,” he said.

Even if the House comes to an agreement, appropriations would also need the support of the Democratic-led Senate.