Congress finally met its breaking point on the government shutdown after airport delays took a punishing toll

Win McNamee/Getty ImagesSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
  • President Trump announced he would accept a short-term continuing resolution to reopen the government.
  • The move came hours after the shutdown began to take its toll on airports, with unpaid air traffic controllers causing delays by calling out sick.
  • Democrats are still furious over the shutdown, signalling the country could be in the same situation when the continuing resolution expires next month.

WASHINGTON – Airports began experiencing significant delays on Friday because of 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.

The airports devolving into chaos seemed to give lawmakers on Capitol Hill 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

When Republican Sen. Roger Wicker was asked whether the airport delays were what finally sparked a deal, he told reporters in the Capitol the issue was “pivotal” in bringing the continuing resolution 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 the government and get the back pay to employees working without pay and furloughed federal workers, who were barred from working during the shutdown. It does not include 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 continuing resolution 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 continuing resolution, 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.”

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio instead criticised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who he characterised as not engaged in the negotiations to reopen the government.

“I think that [McConnell] is realising 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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