Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Security lines at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta stretch more than an hour Monday morning amid the partial federal shutdown, causing some travelers to miss flights. The number of security screeners calling off has spiked.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019 1:00 am

Airports seeing more screeners calling off

Associated Press

Fact check

Pelosi wasn't 'enjoying sun'

President Donald Trump accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of partying on a beach in Puerto Rico – with lobbyists, no less – while he sat in the White House over the weekend ready to work out a deal to end the federal shutdown. It's not true.

Pelosi didn't go to Puerto Rico or any beach. Like Trump, she spent the weekend in snowbound Washington.

“Nancy Pelosi's in Hawaii over the holidays, now she's in Puerto Rico with a bunch of Democrats and lobbyists, you know, enjoying the sun and partying down there,” Trump said in a Fox News interview Saturday night.

In recent days, Trump and allies twisted a weekend retreat in San Juan attended by about 30 Democratic lawmakers into a “vacation” that seemingly emptied the capital of the legislators needed to solve the partial government shutdown.

In reality, many lawmakers from both parties were out of town, mostly back home, though talks could have taken place in their absence.

Trump is correct that Pelosi visited Hawaii over the Christmas holiday.

ATLANTA – The number of airport security screeners failing to show up for work around the country is soaring as the partial government shutdown goes into its fourth week.

No-shows among screeners jumped Sunday and again Monday, when the Transportation Security Administration reported a national absence rate of 7.6 percent compared with 3.2 percent on a comparable day a year ago. Monday marked the first business day after screeners did not receive a paycheck for the first time since the shutdown began.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest, some passengers waited more than an hour to get through checkpoints. The airport reported the long lines on its website Monday morning, showing the hour-plus waits at all three checkpoints in the domestic terminal.

“It's chaos out here,” passenger Vincent Smith said as he stood in a line that snaked through the Atlanta airport's atrium and baggage claim areas. “This line, I've been here about 15 minutes and it has moved 2 feet.”

A statement from TSA attributed the long waits in Atlanta to “anticipated high volume.”

Meanwhile, TSA said it would move officers around the country to deal with local shortages. A few airports are making changes to deal with the shortage of screeners.

At Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, a security checkpoint and ticket counter that were shuttered Sunday in Terminal B will remain closed through today, a spokesman said.

Miami International Airport closed one of its concourses for part of Saturday and Sunday, shifting about a dozen afternoon and evening flights each day to other concourses so that TSA workers could adequately staff the other checkpoints.

An official with the union representing TSA workers said the agency canceled employees' vacation requests about a week ago.

FDA inspecting riskier foods

The Food and Drug Administration said it will resume inspections of some of the riskiest foods such as cheeses, produce and infant formula as early as today.

The routine inspections had been briefly halted as a result of the partial government shutdown.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Monday that the agency is bringing back about 150 unpaid employees for the inspections. Riskier foods account for about a third of the agency's roughly 8,400 routine inspections each year.

The FDA oversees packaged foods and produce. Meat, poultry and processed eggs are checked by the Department of Agriculture and have continued. States handle about half of the FDA's inspections and those haven't stopped. FDA inspections of imported foods and other core functions such as monitoring for food poisoning outbreaks have continued as well, the agency said.

More troops set to assist at border

The Pentagon says it has agreed to provide new and extended help securing the U.S.-Mexico border, including personnel to operate security cameras.

The agreement with the Department of Homeland Security was announced Monday evening. It extends the military mission from Jan. 31 to end of September.

An official says the work includes laying an additional 150 miles of concertina wire between official ports of entry.

The mission began in late October and initially was to end Dec. 15.

The Pentagon announcement does not say how many additional troops will be required to perform the extra work. There currently are about 2,350 active-duty troops conducting the border mission.