Democrats are floating canceling the Super Bowl in order to push to end what is now the longest government shutdown in history, according to a report quoting several Democrat lawmakers.
Fox News reports a Democrat lawmaker confirmed that during a meeting of the House Democrat Conference–of which Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the leader–on Thursday morning, discussion of the shutdown’s effects on the Super Bowl caused a ruckus.
“A House Democratic Caucus meeting was roiled Thursday morning after one representative floated the possibility that the ongoing partial federal government shutdown might affect federal authorities’ ability to secure the upcoming Super Bowl,” Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Gregg Re reported.
“That definitely got everyone’s attention,” a Democrat lawmaker told Fox News anonymously.
Another Democrat lawmaker told Fox News anonymously that canceling the Super Bowl “would definitely lead to the end of the government shutdown.”
While nobody in President Donald Trump’s administration–which oversees the collection of government agencies that come together to handle travel, logistics, security, and more for major events like the Super Bowl–is suggesting that the Super Bowl be canceled like Democrats on Capitol Hill are floating, there is definitely concern about the shutdown’s impact on this year’s big game.
A report from NBC News details how not just air traffic controllers at Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson International Airport will be working without pay, but so will officials at many of the other agencies involved in helping secure the Super Bowl:
If the shutdown — now in an unprecedented 27th day — continues, the federal employees charged with overseeing security at the event will also be working without pay.
The Department of Homeland Security is heavily involved with keeping the event safe from terrorism and other threats, working with the NFL, FBI and local law enforcement agencies.
That includes personnel from the Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. All of those agencies have been hit by the shutdown — as has the FBI.
The Fox News report details just how intricately involved federal agencies are in protecting the Super Bowl:
Super Bowls, including last year’s game in Minneapolis, typically are designated at Special Event Assessment Rating level 1 and involve tight coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rates SEARs 1 through 5, with level 1 indicating the most risk.
A DHS rating of SEAR 1 is just below that of a National Special Security Event, a designation for major national or international events that face the highest potential terr risks. At last year’s Super Bowl, roughly 30 federal agencies — including the FBI, Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — were on hand, as well as cybersecurity officials.
That’s not all. According to CNBC, since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is affected by the shutdown, apparently Super Bowl ads could be hampered too. CNBC’s Lucy Handley reports:
Companies spend millions of dollars on ads at the Super Bowl, in the hope that the event’s vast audience will buy their new products and services.
But the U.S. government shutdown may have an impact on product launches, because part of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website is offline and companies therefore can’t currently get new services approved and ready to advertise during the big game on February 3.
The FCC regulates the TV and telecommunications industries and on January 3 posted on its website: “Due to the partial government shutdown, the FCC suspended most operations at midday Thursday 3 Jan, 2019.”
Democrat threats to cancel the Super Bowl over the shutdown come in the wake of Pelosi canceling the State of the Union. She had originally, after being elected Speaker while the government was shut down, invited President Trump to the House chamber in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 29 to deliver the annual presidential address to Congress and the nation, but then changed her mind and said that if the shutdown persists security concerns may preclude the Capitol from being ready to handle such a high-profile, high-risk event.
The U.S. Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security fired back, saying Pelosi did not know what she was talking about and that they would be ready to handle the State of the Union address on Jan. 29 even if the shutdown continues.
Then, on Thursday, as Democrats boarded a U.S. Air Force bus bound for a military plane to take them gallivanting around the world to Europe and Afghanistan, President Trump used his authority as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to cancel Pelosi’s jaunt. Trump said she could still fly commercial if she wanted to continue abandoning government funding negotiations, which she originally planned to do until Friday morning when her office announced those plans had fallen through, blaming Trump again for it.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer refuse to provide the Democrat votes necessary to reopen the government because they are adamantly opposed to any kind of barrier along the U.S. border with Mexico. Pelosi has even called a wall, like the one President Trump wants to build, “immoral,” but she and Schumer are having difficulty holding Democrats together against a barrier on the border.
Even Pelosi’s number two, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, says she is incorrect to say walls are “immoral,” while many other rank-and-file Democrats are openly seeking a deal with the White House and President Trump.
The Super Bowl, assuming the Democrats do not succeed in canceling it, is scheduled to be played in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 3, two weeks from Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET that day. The conference championship games, which will decide the participants in this year’s Super Bowl, take place on this coming Sunday.
The Los Angeles Rams face off against the New Orleans Saints at 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday in the National Football Conference championship, and the New England Patriots face the Kansas City Chiefs in the American Football Conference championship at 6:40 p.m. ET on Sunday.