The federal government shutdown that took effect Tuesday threatened to close air traffic control towers, like the one at Waterbury-Oxford Airport. But so far, the tower remains open.
Reports are trickling in that air traffic control towers around the country will remain open, but officials at the local airport and locally elected government officials have not been given that information in writing and don't know how long the towers will remain open. Official sources in the air traffic control tower at the airport could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday. But the tower was open.
Connecticut State Sen. Rob Kane, R-Watertown, whose 32nd District covers Oxford, said he hasn't heard anything directly.
"It's certainly a concern that a lot of pilots of smaller aircraft have," he said. "Many of the pilots I've talked to claim that it's not that big of a deal because a lot of airports they fly into don't have towers so they are kind of used to it anyway."
Still, in his mind, Kane said he believes government should provide four basic functions: public health, education, public safety and infrastructure.
"Certainly the air traffic control tower would fall under the category of public safety, so it is a concern for me and many of the people flying in and out of the airport," he said.
About the Government Shutdown
Kane believes the average person is frustrated with politics in Washington, which he believes leads to apathy on the part of many would-be voters because they view all politicians in the same light.
“I think the sad part is when you talk to the average person on the street, they see it as, and understandably so, that there are two parties bickering and drawing a line in the sand and are unable to put party politics aside to get things done in Washington," he said.
“On the local level, we figure out a way to get things done in a way that is best for everyone. Washington can learn a lot from small towns that put party politics aside to get things done.”
A different perspective
The press office of U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Greenwich, whose 4th District covers Oxford, sent out a news release Tuesday reminding constituents that millions of Americans will now have access to affordable, quality health insurance as Access Health CT opens in Connecticut (Oct. 1), under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Instant tax credits are available to most middle income families to help purchase that insurance.
“The health care exchanges that opened today are, for the first time, providing a marketplace where any American who needs health insurance can buy it,” Himes said. “Despite the dysfunction in Washington, we’re seeing what good government can do when people come together to debate, compromise, and put in place a plan to help the American people."
How the government shutdown will impact federal agencies and departments:
- Social Security checks will still be issued, but expect delays in processing new applications and other paperwork, such as change of address forms.
- Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and providers should not be affected, but new applicants likely will not be processed or able to enroll.
- The Veterans Administration’s medical services and facilities will not have a disruption in their services. Other VA services, including call centers and claims appeals, likely will be impacted.
- Mail delivery will continue as normal.
- Passport and visa applications will not be handled.
- Military personnel will continue to be paid.
- All Internal Revenue Service offices are closed.
- Air traffic controllers will remain on the job, as will airport security provided by the Transportation Security Administration.
- In general, all federal properties will be closed to the public and non-essential personal. Essential maintenance and security services will continue. The federal courthouse in Chicago will remain open for business for approximately 10 business days. On or around Oct. 15, the situation will be reassessed and additional guidance provide.
- For those making trips to Washington, D.C., the Capitol Visitor Center, all federal museums and federal buildings will be closed. Once the shutdown ends, Rep. Lipinski’s office will again be able to assist with scheduling tours.
- Forget about that trip to Yellowstone or the Great Smoky National Park. National parks are closed indefinitely while Congress works things out.
- Most federal department and agency websites will not be updated with the most current information available. The National Weather Service website will be updated for the duration of the shutdown. Amazingly, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA websites will not be updated during the shutdown.
- For detailed information about specific impacts at federal agencies and departments, visit www.usa.gov/shutdown.shtmlor call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636) Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time.
Source: U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski via the Lemont, Illinois, Patch.