Local TSA agent impacted by the longest government shutdown.

by Keona Bonamy

During the government shutdown, Diamond Warren worked as many shifts as she could at the Philadelphia International Airport as a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) without pay.

When needed, Warren, 23, also worked as an Uber driver for extra income. “It’s hard because I haven’t been paid in over a month,” said Warren, who earns $18 per hour at the airport.

Although Warren went to most of her shifts at the airport, she said it was humiliating to work 40 hours per week but still need assistance from different charity organizations, such as Philabundance, a nonprofit food bank.

“At the end of the day it was a great feeling to get all of that help, but I shouldn’t have Local TSA agent impacted by the longest to need it,” Warren said. “The stuff that everybody donated should have gone to people who needed it, like people who are homeless or people who don’t have jobs.”

Warren has more than $1,500 in bills each month and, under normal circumstances, she can afford them, she explained. However, the shutdown forced her to put her car loan into a three-month deferment plan, and she had to ask other bill collectors for more time before late fees started to hit her account.

Warren was just one of 800,000 federal government employees affected by the government shutdown. President Donald Trump’s decision to shut down the government was not the first time this happened; however this shutdown was the longest in the history of the United States.

Trump issued an executive order on “Providing for the Closing of Executive Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government on December 24, 2018.”

The executive order was published on Dec. 18 on the White House’s website. The executive order mandated that federal government employees would be dismissed from work. The order also stated that the heads of certain agencies can determine which offices and organizations must still report to work “for reasons of national security, defense, or other public need,” Trump said.

The shutdown resulted when Trump’s funding for an additional method of border control was not approved by Congress.

Trump is asking for more than $5 billion in federal funds to build a wall at Mexico’s border.

“We need the Wall for the safety and security of our country,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “We need the Wall to help stop the massive inflow of drugs from Mexico, now rated the number one most continued from front page government shutdown dangerous country in the world. If there is no Wall, there is no Deal!”

There were many negotiations made and presented to Trump in order to reopen the government.

“We have been negotiating,” said U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “The White House seems to move the goalposts. Every time they come with a proposal, they walk away from it. Pretty soon these goal posts won’t even be in the stadium.” Pelosi expressed that the Democrats believe the wall would misspend taxpayers’ money.

Meanwhile, the Democrats continued to negotiate to help reopen the government. As a result of the shutdown, all federal employees were either furloughed or required to work without pay.

In addition to 800,000 federal workers, the shutdown also affected nine different executive departments: the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, Justice, and Homeland Security.

According to experts at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, government shutdowns are completely legal. So Trump is permitted to shut the government down for as long as he sees fit. Although Warren hopes the government does not shut down again, she anticipates it.

There has been a lot of conversation at her job as to why the government has reopened suddenly, and employees have concluded that it is because of the upcoming Super Bowl, she said.

“The Super Bowl is in Atlanta, one of the biggest and busiest airports in the United States, and I know they would not want any issues with security,” Warren said. “They do not want security to be affected because of call-outs and no shows.”

Many passengers attending The Super Bowl, scheduled for Feb. 3, will have to fly into The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest airport, by measure of total passengers, according to Airport Council International, an organization whose purpose is to advance the interests of airports and create the professional experience in airport management and operations.

Although every sector of the government is now open, Warren, like many other federal government employees, worries it will close again if negotiations do not favor funding a wall, according to Trump.

“In the future I would hope to see more maturity from the president,” Warren said. “There should be better systems in place to prevent stuff like this from happening.”

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Contact Keona Bonamy at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu