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Government shutdown: Congress meets breaking point after airport delays



WASHINGTON — Airports began experiencing significant delays on Friday due to the high number of Federal Aviation Administration employees calling out sick during the partial government shutdown, during which air traffic controllers and hundreds of thousands of other federal workers have gone weeks without a paycheck.

With the airports devolving into chaos, it signaled on Capitol Hill that lawmakers received the necessary push to broker a deal and reopen the government. Hours later, President Donald Trump endorsed a short term continuing resolution to fund the government.

Read more: ‘It’s a sign somebody cares’: Federal workers in Washington line up around the block for a free meal as shutdown extends to day 35

Asked about the airport delays as potentially being the straw to break the camel’s back, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker told reporters in the Capitol it was “pivotal” as the White House prepared to relent on the shutdown.

“It starts to build up — the impacts of that,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune told INSIDER. “And I think that those have become very real, very personal for a lot of people who aren’t getting paid.”

The anger surrounding the airport chaos and other areas wearing on lawmakers and the public prompted an on-the-spot deal announced by Trump Friday afternoon.

The plan is a three-week continuing resolution to reopen government and get the back pay to furloughed federal workers. It does not included any funding for increased border security or a wall, which was Trump’s primary reason for not accepting anything Congress produced over the past few weeks.

During a speech in the White House Rose Garden Friday, Trump made clear he would allow another shutdown or declare a national emergency in the event border security funding is not resolved when the CR expires next month, a move that has rattled Capitol Hill.

Many lawmakers have questioned the legality of an emergency declaration, suggesting it would face lengthy court battles to stop its implementation.

Democrats are still enraged and blaming Trump

Democrats embraced the CR, with a promise to debate border security in the coming weeks. But many were still left angry over what they viewed as an unnecessary political ploy by Trump and Republicans.

“I’ve seen victory laps, but this is the first time I’ve seen a president go to the Rose Garden to take a defeat lap,” Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee said on MSNBC after Trump’s speech.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the shutdown “self-defeating” for Republicans in a speech on the Senate floor, adding, “Hopefully it means a lesson has been learned.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio instead took aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who he characterized as not engaged in the negotiations to reopen the government.

“I think that [McConnell] is realizing that his disengagement is — that he’s paying the political price for it,” Brown told INSIDER. “And more human beings in the country are hurt because he’s so disengaged.”

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