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11 Jan, 2019 20:19

FBI protests missed pay & air traffic controllers sue as shutdown breaks records

FBI protests missed pay & air traffic controllers sue as shutdown breaks records

Air traffic controllers have joined several other groups of federal employees suing the Trump administration over missed pay for having to work through the ongoing government shutdown. Some 13,000 FBI agents are also affected.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) filed a lawsuit on Friday, accusing the White House of depriving their members “of their hard-earned compensation without the requisite due process.” Failure to pay workers who are required to show up despite the shutdown “continues to have a devastating effect on those devoted federal employees’ lives," the NATCA lawsuit says.

NATCA’s lawsuit is the third this week filed by labor unions representing federal employees. The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) have also sued over the longest shutdown in US history.

In a separate case before a federal court in Washington, DC the NTEU is arguing that the 1982 Antideficiency Act – under which the government shutdowns happen when Congress fails to appropriate funding for federal programs – is itself unconstitutional because it allows the executive branch to compel employees to work in emergencies.

Also on rt.com US Coast Guard tells employees to babysit & hold garage sales to survive government shutdown

Some 800,000 federal workers have been affected by the ongoing partial shutdown. According to the unions, more than half of that number have been required to show up for work anyway, because their jobs were declared essential.

Nearly 13,000 FBI employees are among those affected, the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) said in an open letter sent on Thursday. The association urged Congress to fund the Department of Justice – and thereby the Bureau – because “financial security is a matter of national security.”

If FBI agents miss paying their bills, the association warned, their security clearances could be delayed or revoked. Lack of funding would jeopardize the FBI’s very important mission, and prevent it from attracting top talent already tempted by the private sector, the FBIAA wrote.

TSA agents are also working without pay, and increasingly calling in sick to work other jobs and make ends meet, according to reports. Facing a shortage of TSA staff, the Miami International Airport announced on Friday it would be closing one of its checkpoints over the weekend, effectively stopping all departures from Terminal G.

President Donald Trump continues to insist on building the barrier, while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) have repeatedly said they will not approve any money for it, ever.

Also on rt.com ‘One way or another’: Trump inches toward emergency over wall & shutdown impasse

One possible way out of the stalemate is for Trump to declare a national emergency and use the Pentagon slush fund to build the wall. Though he has been hesitant to invoke those powers so far, there is increasing speculation he might do so by next week, as Wall Street estimates the shutdown may reduce the projected GDP by a quarter of a percentage point.

The shutdown began on December 22, after Senate Democrats refused to vote on the appropriations bill giving $5.6 billion towards the construction of a barrier on the US-Mexico border that was approved by the Republican-majority House of Representatives. Democrats took over the House on January 3, and proceeded to propose a series of funding bills, none of which contained any money for the wall.

The impasse has now entered day 21, tying the record for the longest-running shutdown in US history set under the Clinton administration in 1995 – and apparently guaranteed to surpass it, with the Senate now in recess until Monday.

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