“I think we are at a point where both sides, Democrats and Republicans, have the opportunity to show their collective muscle and are ready, willing and able to work together for a common goal that will benefit us all,” he said.
Williams was in Washington for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meeting Jan. 23 through 25. Before he left the nation’s capital the following day, he was notified that President Donald Trump had ended, at least for three weeks, the 35-day partial shutdown of the U.S. government that had been in effect since Dec. 22.
While in Washington, Williams spoke with numerous senators and representatives about a number of issues, from medical marijuana to human trafficking. But one of his major concerns was how the partial government shutdown was affecting federal workers, such Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees and air traffic controllers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, since these workers had not been paid since the shutdown began.
“Hartsfield-Jackson is right in Union City’s backyard and brings people from all over the world to Atlanta,” Williams said. “Hopefully, this three-week government opening will stretch into being a permanent end to this situation which has put many government workers and their families in dire straits.”
Williams said he had the opportunity to talk not only to Georgia’s delegation in the House and Senate about the partial federal shutdown at Hartsfield-Jackson, but also to city leaders from across the country.
“We were able to give our Georgia delegation an insight as to how this shutdown was not only affecting many federal government functions, like TSA and air traffic control, but learned how it was affecting other airports nationwide,” he said.
Steve Benjamin, the conference’s president and the mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, said in a statement released just after the shutdown’s ending was announced that the organization had already issued a resolution urging the president and Congress to work together to reopen the federal government.
“We urge Congress to come together across party lines and work toward a long-term solution that prioritizes the American people so that they no longer have to live with fear and uncertainty,” Benjamin said. “A short-term fix will provide temporary relief, but families across this great country deserve better from their elected leaders. No one wins when the federal government shuts down, and there is no reason our citizens should pay the price while Washington remains mired in a political dispute.”
Although ending the partial government shutdown was paramount on the minds of most U.S. mayors attending the conference, another main topic of conversation was medical marijuana. Williams said it will be one of a number of important topics discussed under the gold dome during this year’s session at the Georgia capital.
“We were also able to get more information on a youth involvement task force which would have as a goal, getting youth involved in many types of good, wholesome activities in our communities, Williams said. “These would include health and wellness activities and after-school education opportunities as well as discussions on how we can make certain the children in our communities remain safe.”