As the federal government shutdown was in its fifth day on Dec. 26, users of Westchester County Airport were not experiencing unusual delays despite Transportation Security Administration workers who do passenger screening at the airport being off the payroll.
The TSA workers have been coming in to perform their duties as volunteers. There is an expectation they will receive back pay when the federal government reopens. In addition to services provided by the TSA, operations at the airport depend on Federal Aviation Administration controllers who sequence aircraft for arrivals and departures and make sure they don’t run into each other while airborne.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer visited TSA staff at the airport to thank them for staying on the job, but warned that if there’s a long shutdown and TSA runs out of volunteer workers, the county will have to comply with any federal orders to curtail operations.
“The president can direct his agencies to do what he sees fit. He may do more than he’s doing right now,” Latimer said about President Trump’s public position that he’ll keep the government closed until Congress funds the wall he wants to build between the U.S and Mexico.
Latimer also pointed out, “They’re going to have a change in the House (of Representatives) leadership in the next few days and we’ll see if that changes anything in the equation.”
As a gesture of goodwill and thanks for volunteering, TSA workers were given vouchers for free meals from airport vendors. It was arranged through AvPORTS, the company that holds the contract to manage the airport for the county.
Latimer recalled that when he was serving in the state Legislature, and the state budget was not adopted on time, lawmakers’ paychecks were withheld. He said that experience helps him understand the plight of the federal workers who are trying to pay their bills without having their regular paychecks.