As Super Bowl approaches, city worries about impact of government shutdown

Passengers have waited hours to get through security at the Atlanta airport during the government shutdown. (Photo courtesy CBS 46)

The Atlanta City Council is urging President Donald Trump and  U.S. Congress members to immediately re-open the federal government, while Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms took to CNN to voice her concerns about how the impact could affect the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

At the Tuesday council meeting, Councilmember Jennifer Ide introduced a resolution calling for the re-opening, noting that the shutdown was affecting the nation’s economic growth and that promised back pay should be extended to government contractors.  It was passed unanimously.

“The ongoing government shutdown has impacted lives across Atlanta and the Council District that I represent, District 6. From the airport to the CDC in my district, critical institutions of our city are operating at limited capacity,” Ide said. “As the Super Bowl approaches, Atlanta is being denied the opportunity to put its best foot forward as national attention focuses on the world’s most televised event.”

Long lines at security gates at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport have made headlines, while a record number of airport security screeners, who are working unpaid during the shutdown, are calling out sick. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners had to be flown in from other cities at one point last week to help handle the lines of passengers snaking through the airport.

Mayor Bottoms expressed her frustrations and Super Bowl concerns in an interview on CNN Tuesday.

“We’re concerned. It’s frustrating, it’s concerning. We are hosting one of the biggest, most-watched events in the world in just a few weeks and there are real concerns about will our airport be up and functioning in a way that we need it to be,” Bottoms said.

Bottoms told CNN that the city even looked into paying some TSA employees through the city’s airport fund but were told that wasn’t possible.

“This shutdown is hurting Atlanta residents, especially those who work for the federal government. And it creates a ripple effect that negatively impacts other residents and their families,” said Councilmember Matt Westmoreland, who co-sponsored the resolution. “The safety of our citizens, and the hundreds of thousands of visitors coming for the Super Bowl, is paramount. This shutdown needs to end right now.”

The resolution states that the council supports a comprehensive immigration policy, but not at the expense of forcing essential federal employees to work without pay and others to be furloughed.

“Friday will be the second paycheck that government employees are missing. Just imagine not getting a paycheck and a month or two of not paying your mortgage, rent and bills,” Council President Felicia Moore said. “I just want to add my voice to the chorus and demand Washington get its act together, figure something out, get the government open and let’s get relief.”

The city of Atlanta is home to thousands of federal employees and contractors, as well as government facilities including the Richard B. Russell Federal Building, Sam Nunn Federal Center, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. government has been partially shutdown since Dec. 22, making this the longest government shutdown in American history.

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