Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday cautioned that a potential government shutdown would impede the department's progress in air travel, the Washington Examiner reported.
Buttigieg, during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing, called upon Congress to pass both government funding and new legislation pertaining to air and rail transportation.
His comments come amid a looming government shutdown as lawmakers grapple with the challenge of reaching a consensus on funding measures to extend government operations beyond the September 30 expiration date.
The Department of Transportation aimed to recruit 1,500 new air traffic controllers by the end of 2023, hoping to bring order to the chaotic air travel of recent years. Buttigieg stated that while the goal had been met, the looming government shutdown threatens that progress.
"I'm pleased to say that we hit our target of 1,500 this year to be hired, and we have about 2,600 air traffic controllers in the pipeline," Buttigieg said.
"But I would also be remiss if I didn't mention that a government shutdown would stop us in our tracks when it comes to hiring at exactly the wrong moment, while those who are qualified controllers in the tower would be permitted to continue working. It would stop training at just a moment when we're finally trending positive again, in terms of the number of people ready to take their seats."
"Even the shutdown lasting a few weeks could set us back by months or more because of how complex that [air traffic control] training is," he added. "And we cannot afford that kind of politically driven disruption at the very moment, when we finally have those air traffic control report numbers headed in the right direction."
The Washington Examiner reported that committee Republicans are expected to scrutinize Buttigieg's testimony, particularly with regard to the Biden administration's climate change agenda, preference for electric vehicles, and recent travel-related challenges.
Nick Koutsobinas, a Newsmax writer, has years of news reporting experience. A graduate from Missouri State University’s philosophy program, he focuses on exposing corruption and censorship.
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