Top Jersey Democrats launched a pre-emptive media strike at Newark Airport as the partial government shutdown hit Day 18 and the president prepared to, as he tweeted, “Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border.”
Democrats questioned Donald Trump’s credibility, noting his Oval Office address should come with a warning to viewers.
“And that warning is, ‘The comments you are about to hear are not based on fact, and are likely to include misinformation, blatant lies and fear mongering,'” Sen. Bob Menendez said.
“This president took responsibility for the shutdown, now he’s trying to shift blame. This president said Mexico would pay for his wall, now he’s trying to make American taxpayers pay for it, and doing it on the backs of our federal workers by hurting them,” said Sen. Cory Booker.
Democrats called for Trump to end the shutdown, but Vice President Mike Pence argued immigrants at the southern border have created a real crisis. On Good Morning America Tuesday, he attempted to defend Trump against charges of mendacity.
“The American people aren’t as concerned about the political debate as they are concerned about what’s really happening at the border,” Pence said. “We need new resources. We need to build a wall. We need Congress to come to the table and work with this president to address this crisis once and for all.”
If Trump declares a national state of emergency in an attempt to fund his wall, Menendez says it’ll end up in court.
“Trying to declare a national emergency for something that is purely a political purpose just won’t fly,” Menendez said.
Five thousand federal workers in New Jersey are among 800,000 who’ve been furloughed or forced to work without pay during the shutdown — including air traffic controllers and TSA screeners. TSA union demanded an end to the shutdown, calling it “ … completely unacceptable that the women and men who risk their lives safeguarding our airports are still required to report for work without knowing when they’ll be paid again.”
TSA officials worry that even more screeners will call out sick if they don’t get paychecks Friday. Some travelers empathized.
“People work better when they’re compensated for what they’re doing, right? Even though folks have a mindset of service and protecting the public, it has a negative impact when you know you have to go home and don’t know how you’re going to pay your bills, right?” said traveler Joe Adams.
Among those furloughed are Michael Jessie who works as an aviation safety inspector for the FAA. He stood in Terminal B with a sign warning travelers that FAA safety inspectors are not on the job.
“No one is watching to see if operations are being conducted safely. No one is making sure that all maintenance is being conducted in accordance with the rules and regulations,” Jessie said.
“I still think it’s safe for Americans to fly. But as I said earlier, you have to recognize when you create stress on the system, that that stress eventually leads to the potential for error,” Menendez said.
The president’s scheduled to speak Tuesday night, followed by a rebuttal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. GOP sources say the president will meet with congressional leaders Wednesday in an effort to end the shutdown.