President Donald Trump has consistently acted as though a majority of the public supports him in his government shutdown-inducing efforts to build a border wall blocking off Mexico — but this week on a flight from Chicago to D.C., GOP U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (Ill.) got a taste of just how off base that claim really is.
An angry fellow passenger confronted him for flying first class while tens of thousands of employees just at the Transportation Safety Administration work without pay. The passenger hasn’t been publicly identified as of early Wednesday, but in video of the encounter, he asks Davis if he thinks it’s “appropriate” to fly first class while government employees across the country struggle to make ends meet. Davis remained silent during the brief encounter, which the unidentified passenger quipped he was taking as a yes.
A GOP congressman flew first class today on a taxpayer-funded flight* on day 32 of the shutdown. A fellow passenger wasn’t thrilled.
— Akbar Shahid Ahmed (@AkbarSAhmed) January 22, 2019
Besides the TSA employees, there are also tens of thousands more air traffic controllers with the Federal Aviation Administration who are being forced to work without pay while the showdown between Trump and Congressional Democrats who refuse to approve funding for a wall rages on.
Davis has backed the GOP party line on the supposed need for a wall — while also recently supporting Democratic efforts to reopen the government and then negotiate over border security.
Davis spokesperson Ashley Phelps explained that taxpayer dollars didn’t actually go towards a first class ticket for the Congressman — since he’d already flown so much on the taxpayer’s dime that when his office purchased a regular ticket this time around, he got a free upgrade.
Ironically enough, government funded flight has ended up an at least temporarily major issue in the shutdown fight. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested Trump postpone his State of the Union address over issues like security staff being expected to work without pay, the White House forbade government funding from going towards an upcoming trip she was taking overseas. Pelosi eventually claimed the administration leaked details of her alternate commercial flight plans she was going to utilize instead and thereby put her and her delegation in danger.
Outside of that issue, she’s lambasted the president for putting his politics above the real immediate needs of hundreds of thousands of Americans, many of whom are now struggling to make ends meet. Even the U.S. Coast Guard is going without pay, forcing its members to rely on services like food banks, which Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz has denounced as “unacceptable.”
That hasn’t enacted any progress in D.C. so far. This week, the Senate finally moved to take up measures to reopen the government at least for a time, including one package without wall funding and one with it. However, neither one of those proposals have a clear path forward, since Democrats still won’t back a wall and the president still won’t sign anything without wall funding. We’re simply finally at the point where the Senate is at the negotiating table.
The Democrat-majority House had previously approved eight spending packages and counting, although none of them included wall funding. Still, the fact that those bills emerged while Trump sat back and rage tweeted makes clear which side takes this issue more seriously.
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot