Manchin praises federal workers still on job at Yeager Airport

At a news conference at Yeager Airport, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) praised TSA agents and air traffic controllers who are working during the government shutdown. (WCHS/WVAH)

At a news conference at Yeager Airport, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., praised Transportation Security Administration agents and air traffic controllers who are working during the partial government shutdown.

Manchin said during the news conference Friday that the shutdown, which is in its third week, is self-inflicted and needs to end.

The senator said federal employees, including many at Yeager, are not being paid to work but will be fired if they do not go to work. Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said it is a "national disgrace how federal workers are being treated."

Yeager Airport Director Terry Sayre said the airport's operations are still up and running. TSA workers and air traffic controllers are considered essential employees and continue to be on the job.

Manchin said he supports legislation that was introduced Friday that will ensure federal workers will get back pay once the government shutdown ends.

The senator said President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell currently have six bills in front of them that would open 90 percent of the government and would put most of West Virginia's 18,000 federal employees back to work.

Manchin said the shutdown has a trickle-down effect and impacts West Virginians who aren't federal employees as well.

The senator said he believes Trump should declare a national emergency to fund the border wall. While he said he does not support this measure, this is the only way he sees the government reopening.

Meanwhile, Manchin said he wants to see immigration reform that would provide a path for immigrants to legally come into the United States, while keeping criminals out. He said many immigrants and dreamers who have crossed the border are accomplished and also make up a significant part of the military.

Manchin concluded his speech by saying, "let's start acting like Americans."

Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango also spoke at the airport Friday and said the government shutdown is affecting West Virginia flood victims who are relying on federal aid. Salango said the shutdown is "political gamesmanship" and it is time to "end the child behavior."

On Jan. 8. Manchin said during the shutdown, he would be donating his salary to food banks across West Virginia.

You can watch Manchin's complete news conference here:

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