Shutdown: NY airports back to normal, park sites not so much
NEW YORK (AP) — New York airports forced to cut down flights during the government shutdown returned to normal Saturday, but some museums and historical sites run by the National Park Service remain shuttered as officials scramble to bring back staff.
Flights at LaGuardia and Kennedy airports that had been restricted landed and took off with about 15-minute delays, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. And the National Park Service was preparing to resume operations nationally, though the agency’s deputy director, P. Daniel Smith, said schedules for individual sites may vary depending on staff size and complexity.
In Manhattan, the African Burial Ground National Monument was open Saturday. Calls went unanswered at other park service locations including The National Museum of the American Indian, the Hamilton Grange National Memorial, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthplace.
On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law that allows parts of the government to reopen through Feb. 15. About 800,000 federal employees have missed two paychecks during the longest government shutdown ever over the president’s demand that Congress provide funding for a border wall with Mexico.
Amid the shutdown, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island — both under the National Park Service — remained open after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his state would fully fund personnel to keep the sites open to visitors.
At LaGuardia, some flights were halted earlier in the week because of a shortage of unpaid air traffic controllers who had called in sick.
“We’re happy, you know? Pay is pay,” Carlos Rodriguez told NY1 cable news network. “We’ve been working; we deserve to get paid.”
Back pay is expected within days.
A group of New York City federal workers who organized a protest gathering for Friday evening turned it, instead, into a celebration. Restaurants in Manhattan’s financial district donated food for the evening.
In light of the three-week February deadline, “there’s always a danger we’re going to be back in the same position again, so that’s not exactly the most reassuring message, but I think most of us will take whatever we can get at this point,” said Anthony Tseng, the local union president of the American Federation of Government Employees, speaking to NY1.
He added, “On the surface, it is good news to go back to work.”