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Tag: government shutdown

ATF Trying to Catch Up With Backlog of Gun Licenses Due to Government Shutdown

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The longest government shutdown in U.S. history has left its mark — and not in a good way.

ATF, which is responsible for approving Federal Firearms Licenses for gun dealers, finds itself with a huge backlog to process, station KERA reports.

ATF spokeswoman April Langwell tells the station it’s hard to pin down how many pending licenses would have been resolved during the 35-day shutdown, but in a typical month, ATF receives roughly 1,000 new dealer license applications and roughly 30,000 National Firearms Act licenses.

FBI Details How Shutdown Is Impeding Investigations of Terrorism, Violent Crime, Child Trafficking

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The government shutdown is hindering the FBI’s investigations of terrorism, child trafficking and violent crimes, according to a report issued Tuesday by a group representing the bureau’s 13,000 special agents.

The 72-page report, Voices from the Field, describes how agents are being hampered by a shutdown that has no end in sight.

The spending freeze has left the bureau with no money for confidential informants, witnesses at criminal trials, translators, paralegals and other support staff. Agents also are working without pay.

“The shutdown has eliminated any ability to operate,” an unnamed agent who works on counterintelligence investigations said in the report. “The fear is our enemies know they can run freely.”

Another unnamed agent said the bureau has been unable to help crack down on violent gangs.

“I currently investigate a particularly violent street gang,” an agent from the FBI’s central region said in the report. “I have had to tell our local law enforcement partners that I cannot assist in funding these operations because my field office does not have money. This means that the one chance we may have to take down several violent individuals may pass us by and we may not get the chance again.”

Without money for confidential informants, agents are at risk of “losing them and the information they provide forever,” an agent said in the report.

“It’s not a switch that we can turn on and off.”

Government Shutdown Is Stymying Investigations by Federal Agents And Lowering Morale

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, DEA, ATF and Customs and Border Protection are finding that the government shutdown is stymying ongoing investigations.

Many law enforcement officials are being denied travel and money to pay informants involving investigations because there is a lack of available cash, The Washington Post reports.

“The lack of funding is impacting agents’ ability to travel to forward their cases,” said Thomas O’Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association. “As we go forward, those funds are not going to be available and in some cases are not available now.”

Low morale also is a factor. Federal law enforcement employees are considered essential and must work without a paycheck. The stress of financial problems at home can affect their work performance, law enforcement officials said.

“My biggest concern is there’s going to be an agent who is not going to be focused on his job,” Nathan Catura, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said. “He’s going to be out on the street doing some enforcement of something, and he’s going to get hurt. Heaven forbid there’s an agent who gets killed because his mind isn’t on the job.”

Catura added: “Other law enforcement people I continue to speak to, they share the same concerns. The longer this drags out, the more I’m concerned that something’s going to happen.”

Secret Service Agents Who Sacrifice Their Lives to Protect the President Are Working without Pay

Photo via Secret Service.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The men and women who have sworn to sacrifice their own lives to protect the president are not receiving paychecks under the government shutdown.

The 7,000 Secret Service employees, including those on protective details and uniformed officers, missed their first paycheck of the new year.

“These are the people who are closest to him and clearly put their lives on the line for him every single day,” Rick Tyler, a Republican political consultant, told Huffington Post. “He has demonstrated no empathy for them over this situation.” 

Trump has been virtually mum on the tens of thousands of federal law enforcement officials who have been forced to work without pay. They include TSA screeners and FBI, DEA, ATF and Border Patrol agents who are considered “essential” employees.

Thousands of TSA screeners have been calling in sick in protest, causing snarls and security concerns at airports.

The irony is that the shutdown over border protection could make the country more unsafe.

Airports Brace for Safety Issues As TSA Employees React to Government Shutdown

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A government shutdown over border safety could soon cause serious security problems at airports, where more than 51,000 TSA employees began working without pay Friday.

The TSA reported a 55% increase in employees calling in sick Thursday, and some airport screeners have already quit, the agency’s spokesman Michael Bilello told Bloomberg.

The TSA is responding to staff shortages by planning to close some security checkpoints at airports nationwide beginning this weekend.

Airport authorities are expressing fear that the shutdown could soon worsen security screening.

“We’re very concerned that the current situation with government employees going without pay is unsustainable in the long term,” Christopher Bidwell, a senior vice president at the Airports Council International-North America in Washington, told Bloomberg. “We certainly have to be mindful of the potential for cascading operational impacts.”

Airports also are bracing for flight delays.

The group that represents more than 10,000 air-traffic controllers, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, filed a lawsuit Friday, alleging it’s against the law to force employees to work without pay.

FBI Group Calls for End to Shutdown, Saying National Security Is at Stake

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A group representing thousands of FBI agents is calling for an end to the government shutdown, saying national security is at stake.

The FBI Agents Association on Thursday released a petition demanding leaders reopen the government.

“On Friday, January 11, 2019, FBI Agents will not be paid due to the partial government shutdown, but we will continue our work protecting our nation,” the petition states. “We urge our elected representatives to fund the Department of Justice and the FBI because financial security is a matter of national security.”

The FBI is among several federal agencies that must continue to operate without paying its employees as the shutdown reached its 21st day Friday.

The petition said the shutdown will cause a signifiant financial burden on many agents and could make it more difficult for the bureau to recruit future employees.

“The men and women of the FBI proudly serve this nation and are honored to protect our country and Constitution from all threats, foreign and domestic,” the petition reads. “We are confident that our leaders share this commitment to protecting our country and will find a path forward to fund the DOJ and the FBI.” 

It continues, “As those on the frontlines in the fight against criminals and terrorists, we urge expediency before financial insecurity compromises national security.”

Trump’s Shutdown Endangers Airport Safety As Unpaid TSA Screeners Call in Sick, Quit

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump said the government shutdown could last months or even years because border protection is so important.

But what about airline safety?

In the first weeks of the shutdown, protection at U.S. airport has been compromised because TSA screeners are calling in sick – and some are quitting – because they can’t afford to work without a paycheck.

The agency’s 51,739 screeners are required to work during the shutdown because their services – screening bags and passengers for weapons – are considered essential.

But with no assurances of getting paid until the shutdown is over, a growing number of screeners have called in sick.

Airports are increasingly concerned about airport safety and disruptions.

“We’re concerned that a prolonged government shutdown could potentially impact security and wait times at airports,” Christopher Bidwell, a senior vice president for security at the Airports Council International-North America in Washington, told Time.

During previous government shutdowns, Congress made sure that federal employees who are forced to work are paid. That has happened yet.

Under normal circumstances, screeners would get paid this Friday. If they don’t, airports are bracing for long wait times, disturbances and potential threats to airlines and passengers.

In Midst of Government Shutdown, FBI Agents Association Pushes For Better Pay and Tax Breaks For Agents

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In the midst of the government shutdown, the FBI Agents Association issued a statement assuring the public agents will continue to do their job.

At the same time, the association in its statement is pushing for better pay and tax relief for agents who are transferred:

“Due to years of pay freezes, federal employee pay lags significantly behind the private sector, and this disparity makes it more difficult to recruit skilled professionals to government service.  At a minimum, the 1.9% pay increase for federal employees that the Senate passed with over 90 votes should become law and applied retroactively to 2019 wages when the shutdown ends.

Special Agents can be transferred to different offices around the country and the world to meet the needs of the FBI.  The 2017 tax law eliminated the moving expense deduction, which offset the relocation expense burden for Special Agents and their families.  As a result, moving reimbursements are now considered taxable income.  FBIAA urges Congress to enact legislation to provide tax relief to Special Agents similar to the bipartisan Relocation Expense Parity Act that was introduced during the last Congress.”

As for protecting the nation, the association stated:

“As the country celebrates the New Year, the American public can be assured that the FBIAA’s membership—which includes nearly 13,000 Special Agents of the FBI  are on the job 24-hours a day, seven days a week to protect our country from criminal and terrorist threats. These men and women are doing so while facing a confluence of policies and gridlock that are causing financial hardship for Agents and their families.

FBIAA members and others are currently working without pay or paid leave because of a fourth government shutdown in five years.  The FBIAA calls on elected officials to work together to end the shutdown and restore Agents’ pay.