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Rep. Davis Talks With TSA Staff As Second Shutdown Looms

Central Illinois Regional Airport
Eric Stock
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (right) spoke with transportation security officer Brian Armstrong during a visit Monday to Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis talked with Transportation Security Administration officers in a visit to Central Illinois Regional Airport on Monday to assess the impact of the recent partial federal government shutdown.
Davis, R-Taylorville, also called on the White House and Congress to come to the bargaining table on work on a solution that would keep the government from reaching another stalemate Feb. 15.

Davis said President Donald Trump has offered several concessions to the Democratic U.S. House leadership, including protections for children of immigrants brought to the country illegally and millions in humanitarian aid in exchange for his $5.7 billion request for a southern border wall.

He said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is playing “political games” by refusing to negotiate since Trump agreed to temporarily re-open the government.

Central Illinois Regional Airport
Credit Eric Stock / WGLT
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (right) talks with TSA Officer Manager Aaron Peterson as Central Illinois Regional Airport Executive Director Carl Olson looks on.

“The president did exactly what Speaker Pelosi asked for, open up the 25 percent of government that wasn’t funded and she’ll come negotiate, she’ll come at least put an offer on the table,” Davis told reporters. “Nothing.”

Davis didn’t say whether he would back Trump’s insistence that he might bypass Congress and declare an emergency to secure border wall funding.

“I don’t think that should be the first step,” Davis said. “I don’t want it to get to that point. I’m here today to make sure we don’t get to that point.”

CIRA Director Carl Olson said TSA employs 33 full- and part-time workers at the Bloomington airport. He said he’s not sure if those employees have had their pay restored following the temporary end to the shutdown.

CIRA officials have said previously that the shutdown had little if any impact on staffing levels, amid reports TSA workers across the country were calling in sick.

Olson said the airport’s air traffic controllers are contracted by a private company, Midwest ATC, that is paid by the federal government.

Olson said if there’s another shutdown, he’s not sure how long the company would be able to cover employee paychecks without federal reimbursements.

“Can their company afford to do it again and will they do it again?” Olson asked.

The airport recently opened a food pantry and support center in the former C.J.'s Restaurant at the old terminal building for the security screeners and air traffic controllers.

Airport spokeswoman Fran Strebing said a number of community organizations have made more than food available, including mental and physical health access points and transportation vouchers.

She added given the potential recurrence of another shutdown, the resource center partners will keep the infrastructure in place until they know more.

State of the Union

Davis' guest for Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday will be Taylorville Fire Chief Mike Crews. Davis said Crews was intrumental in emergency notification and disaster recovery efforts after a tornado caused substaintial damage in the Chrisitian County city on Dec. 1. 

Davis commended Crews for canceling the town's Christmas parade for safety concerns before the storm approached. 

"Imagine if that storm wouldn't have developed, how much criticism he would have gotten at the next few city council meetings," Davis said. "That tough decision allowed people to survive.

"The parade lineup could have been right in the path of that EF-3 tornado that ripped through my hometown."

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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