Will government shutdown affect O'Hare?

  • U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth discusses the government shutdown Monday at O'Hare International Airport.

    U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth discusses the government shutdown Monday at O'Hare International Airport. Marni Pyke | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/8/2019 6:39 AM

Passengers moved smoothly through O'Hare International Airport Monday, but a continued government shutdown has potential to throw a wrench into the system, Sen. Tammy Duckworth said.

The Hoffman Estates Democrat who toured updated facilities at the airport said the third week of the White House standoff with Congress is exasperating federal workers worried about losing pay.

 

Many Transportation Security Administration "agents are calling in sick in order to go work other jobs because they have to put food on the table and meet rent," Duckworth said.

"At a time when the nation's security is at stake, we're actually losing a number of TSA agents on the job, and that is deeply concerning," she said.

Another worry for travelers is excessive lines at one of the nation's busiest airports, but the Chicago Aviation Department reported that O'Hare and Midway "airports continue to provide safe and efficient operations for passengers, with checkpoint wait times averaging 15 minutes or less today."

Other effects of the shutdown will be felt by suburbanites if it drags on, officials predict.

Community grants to local governments are also being suspended, but that's not having an immediate effect, Bensenville Village Manager Evan Summers said.

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"We haven't felt much of anything yet. Our congressmen's staff have been in touch with us to assess any critical needs," Summers said.

Bensenville has about $400,000 due in several months, and "we are hoping that this partial shutdown resolves itself before that money is due. If, of course, that money is delayed the village maintains adequate reserves that it wouldn't pose a material issue," Summers said.

Another problem will also involve posting timely information about air quality near the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook, the subject of a federal pollution probe.

"Monitoring will continue since the equipment is installed, but the results will be slow to post because of furloughed employees," said Mary Werden, a spokeswoman for Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster.

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