Workers warn of flight delays, other pitfalls in GOP government shutdown

By Ty Rushing

September 28, 2023

While some federal employees would still be required to go to work—and not be paid—in the event of a government shutdown, Ruark Hotopp warns services across the country would be negatively impacted.

“As you might imagine, nobody’s happy about it in the first place,” said Hotopp, a union rep who serves as the national vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) District 8, which includes Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.

AFGE represents federal workers like nurses, correctional officers, park rangers, Social Security professionals, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents, and law enforcement officers.

Using TSA agents as an example, Hotopp noted it’s already a stressful job, and having those workers perform their duties for free would exacerbate those challenges for them and create issues for others as well.

“What happens is the morale drops dramatically, mistakes start getting made, then you do see folks that attempt to start using leave and sick leave and their annual leave, and I mean it does happen in pockets where folks start [not] to show up and then you’re understaffed on top of that,” Hotopp said.

“You start to see massive delays, flight attendants and pilots then start to become concerned,” he continued. “If TSA is not really following their security checks, then who is ending up on our planes? I mean it gets really dicey, really fast.”

The federal worker rep made these comments during a Tuesday press conference sponsored by the Iowa Democratic Party, which is trying to make Iowans aware of the pitfalls of a government shutdown.

Party Chair Rita Hart says Iowa’s four Republican US House Representatives could stop a potential shutdown if they vote with Democrats and other Republicans who are opposed to the measure. Republicans won narrow control of the House last November, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has spent much of this year giving in to demands from the far-right wing of his caucus, including those who have proposed extreme spending cuts.

“Zach Nunn, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Ashley Hinson, and Randy Feenstra make up four of five votes that could avert this crisis,” Hart said. “If they would decide to put politics aside and work across the aisle to compromise, a resolution could make it out of the House that would be palatable to the Senate.

“But, instead, Republicans are busy playing political games and too busy trying to ram through massive cuts that have not shot at making it through the Senate,” she continued.

Nunn has spoken out against the shutdown on multiple occasions and has called for bipartisan legislation on the matter, but this ignores the fact the cause of the shutdown is intra-party fighting among Republicans over spending cuts.

In a statement, Hinson also said she “does not want to see the government shut down,” but she also blamed Democrats instead of her own party members.

Feenstra and Miller-Meeks have not issued any releases about a potential shutdown nor have they made any social media posts about it. However, Miller-Meeks did tell WHO13 on Monday that “it’s possible there will be a shutdown for a couple days or a week.”

“The simple business of what we’re asking our Iowa representatives to do is actually represent us well [and] govern in a non-partisan way when it comes to issues like shutting down the government,” Hart said.

  • Ty Rushing

    Ty Rushing is the Chief Political Correspondent for Iowa Starting Line. He is a trail-blazing veteran Iowa journalist, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and co-founder and president of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. Send tips or story ideas to [email protected] and find him on social media @Rushthewriter.


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