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‘Should be a lot better:’ Milwaukee travelers rejoice after government shutdown ends

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New York didn't have enough air traffic controllers on Friday, Jan. 25, causing delays nationwide. Many of those finally being paid remain worried about what will happen in the future.

After 35 days, the partial government shutdown is over -- for now. In Wisconsin, the news comes with a sigh of relief.

Political expert Mordecai Lee says the news displays something not seen often in Washington these days -- compromise.

"What's finally going to happen is, the smart politicians in Washington are finally going to get into a room, they are going to lock the door, they are going to say, 'How can we do this?' where we can say 'I get a half a loaf, and you get a half a loaf,'" said Lee.

As politicians head back to the negotiating table, federal workers like TSA agents at General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee will once again get paychecks. Federal programs, like those that help people with housing and food, are back in line for funding. The fix, however, is not permanent.

"They still don't know what's going to happen," said Josh Sova. "They are able to catch their breath, but they are still on edge."

Josh Sova is the executive director of USO Wisconsin, a group that has been helping hundreds of coast guard families in the state through more than a month without pay.

"They are still nervous about three weeks from now," said Sova.

The ripple effect of the shutdown also still lingers at Mitchell.

"It was a mess," said traveler Malcom Lee. "I mean, we were there since 1 p.m."

Nearly all flights from in and out of LaGuardia to Milwaukee were delayed or canceled after a number of air traffic controllers didn't show up to work.

Among those stuck in the delay -- the Buck's president's twin brother, hoping to celebrate his birthday at Friday's game.

"While we were there, we heard the report a deal was made," said Daniel Feigin. "But we came to the conclusion that wasn't going to get the air traffic controllers back in those three hours."

Bob Hallas

Many feel the potential air travel nightmare may have helped pressure politicians to reopen the government, allowing delayed passengers to take a bow.

"I don't want to take full credit, but yes -- I did help end the government shutdown," said Feigin.

A spokeswoman for General Mitchell International Airport said five flights were delayed heading to or from LaGuardia, where there was staff shortages for up to two and a half hours. Travelers in Milwaukee said they also noticed longer security lines and less TSA workers -- and they're relieved the government is re-opening.

Scott Smith

"I'm glad the government is opened now, because I think the air traffic controllers is a key part of our industry and keeping people safe and flying safe," said Bob Hallas, Milwaukee.

Multiple jet-setters agreed the re-opening of the government will make traveling a little less stressful.

"Having more agents present might make more gates open and easier to get through," said Scott Smith, Dallas. "It should be a lot better."

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