TSA employees work busy holiday travel shifts with no pay during government shutdown

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hours into the government shutdown, it’s business as usual at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Lawmakers have been unable to find a compromise over money for President Donald Trump's promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The disruption affects many government operations and the routines of 800,000 federal employees. Roughly 420,000 workers were deemed essential and will work unpaid just days before Christmas. An additional 380,000 will be furloughed, meaning they will stay home without pay.

The shutdown will last through at least Christmas. The next meeting of Congress won’t be until Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on the Senate floor that there would be no action until the president and Senate Democrats come to an agreement.

“You are not getting the wall today, next week or on Jan. 3 when Democrats take control of the House," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York.

The shutdown impacts thousands across the country, including in Charlotte.

Transportation Security Administration employees at Charlotte Douglas Airport are not just working through the holiday travel weekend; they are doing it without pay.

TSA agents and air traffic controllers are among hundreds of thousands of employees who are heading into the holidays worried about their paycheck.

A TSA spokesperson said historically, when employees are forced to work without pay during a government shutdown, they do typically receive back pay when the shutdown ends.

“It’s just wrong, and we can do better,” traveler Ramona Brown said. “As America, we are better than that.”

"I pray that it comes through and they get their money back, because it would be very sad if (they) didn't get paid,” traveler Carol Armer said.

The TSA spokesperson said holiday travelers should not expect any changes in security.

TSA officers, K-9 handlers and their K-9s, TSA explosive experts, inspectors and all the frontline security personnel are working.

"With their experience and then their roles, it's their responsibility to negotiate, and using (a) government shutdown is not a negotiation tactic," Brown said of Congress members.

A TSA spokesperson said administrative support staff will not be working and will not be getting paid.

Home buyers who are looking to buy or refinance a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration will be put on standby.

Armer said that depending on how long the dispute drags on, it may affect her too.

"We are considering buying a home,” Armer said. “That is a concern we have, and my daughter just closed on a brand-new home, so thank God it happened before."

National parks are also affected.

Roads, trails and overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway are accessible, but public restrooms and information and visitor services are suspended until further notice.

"I hope they come to an agreement,” traveler Arun Mehta said.

While people may not be feeling the effects of the shutdown now, there's concern about how it will affect our communities if both parties can't come up with a solution soon.

“I think it’s a shame at this time of year, especially for families that may depend on the services that the government pays for,” Brown said.

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