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Shutdown Roundup: Aviation Unions Warn of System Break, Feds' Government Credit Card Problems and More

Air travel union chiefs wrote a letter saying that their members "are being asked to work without pay and in an air safety environment that is deteriorating by the day."

The partial government shutdown affecting more than 800,000 federal employees is in its second month. More furloughs are expected as emergency funding is running out at agencies, but the administration has reversed course and will now allow feds to take leave without penalty.

At GovExec, we can't report on all aspects of the shutdown. Here is a roundup of a few story lines from reporting in other news outlets.

Leaders of three major aviation unions released a letter Wednesday warning that the shutdown is putting a strain on air travel that can't be calculated and that they cannot "predict the point at which the entire system will break." National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi, Air Line Pilots Association President Joe DePete, and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson all attached their names to the letter posted to the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA's site, enumerating the challenges that their members have faced during the shutdown and how it affects air safety. The union leaders wrote that the "air safety environment ... is deteriorating by the day." Read the entire letter on the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA's site.

Servicing debt on government credit cards is one of the casualties of the shutdown and feds are having to pay the cards without reimbursement, according to American Banker. Public servants are receiving credit card bills for work-related expenses, but funds set aside for reimbursement are frozen or otherwise unavailable. An AFGE official told American Banker that tens of thousands of employees have received such bills. General Services Administration, the agency that set up the credit card system, is one of the agencies shut down and was not able to provide comment. Read more at American Banker.

In addition to feds feeling the pressure, the macroeconomic effects are likely to increase the longer the shutdown continues. White House economist Kevin Hassett said Wednesday that a shutdown lasting into April could result in a gross domestic product growth rate "very close to zero in the first quarter,” according to a report in Roll Call. Hassett said that the "first quarter tends to be low because of residual seasonality" and that the shutdown could decrease it even further. Read more at Roll Call.

At their meeting in D.C. this week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors called on federal leadership to end the shutdown. Our sibling site Route Fifty spoke to members of the group, with USCM chief Steve Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, saying: "No one wins when there’s a federal government shutdown.” Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi spoke at the event, saying that mayors "hear the stories" of those affected by the shutdown and that "You know that the shutdown must end, and it must end now.” Pelosi did not offer a path forward, however. Read more at Route Fifty.