Planes sit on the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport in January after the Federal Aviation Administration announced it was delaying flights into multiple airports because of staffing concerns related to the government shutdown. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

While Congress rushes to finalize its budget deal and send it to President Trump in time to avert another government shutdown, many aviation safety workers remain wary as they continue to struggle with the effects of the last one.

Some of the tens of thousands of Transportation Security Administration officers who worked airport checkpoints without pay for more than a month have not received all the back pay they’re owed, and they say if the latest deal to fund the government falls apart, many of them won’t show up for work.

A TSA spokesman declined to say how many officers nationwide were still owed pay, but he said financial officials “are manually pushing through the payments” to “a limited number” of affected employees on Wednesday or Thursday.

“Upon learning of this issue, immediate action was taken to ensure these people are paid. TSA will continue to manage the situation until every employee is taken care of,” spokesman Michael Bilello said Tuesday.

“Our payroll is totally messed up. . . . It’s crazy,” said Jacqueline Hathaway, a TSA officer at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, who said that she’s still short 40 hours of pay and that many of her colleagues are facing similar, or more serious, shortfalls.

Even with Trump predicting there won’t be a second shutdown, Hathaway said she is “not at all” confident the president will sign a bill that reaches his desk.

As the last shutdown stretched from days to weeks, the number of TSA employees who called out of work reached as high as 10 percent, with many citing financial hardship as the reason. A second shutdown would send those numbers even higher and further sink morale, Hathaway said.

“This will break them,” she said.

Congress is considering legislation that would allow the TSA and the Federal Aviation Administration to pay workers in future shutdowns using revenue from fees. A bill introduced by Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, would allow the FAA to function as normal during future federal shutdowns, although it could not be signed into law in time should a shutdown begin this weekend.

Under the legislation, money from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund would be used to pay for FAA personnel and programs. Money in that fund comes from taxes on airline tickets and on aviation fuel and cargo.

The measure would not cover TSA workers because they are under the Department of Homeland Security. That would require separate action.

The DeFazio bill, co-sponsored by aviation subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), was endorsed Tuesday by a coalition of 40 aviation groups, including the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

“The system was on the verge of unraveling,” Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, testified at a hearing on the bill Wednesday. “We did see some routine [flight] clearances where mistakes were being made because [controllers] were fatigued. The stress was intense.”

Rinaldi said members of his union were bound to be distracted on the job as they worried about “their mortgage, car payments [and] food.”

More than 10,000 certified air traffic controllers worked without pay, and as the shutdown continued, more than 2,000 FAA safety inspectors also were recalled from furloughs.

In addition, the pipeline for new air traffic controllers was temporarily closed when the FAA was forced to shut its training programs. The classes have resumed, but some training will have to be rescheduled.

Things came to a head Jan. 25, when the FAA was forced to restrict flights into and out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport because there weren’t enough air traffic controllers to manage them safely. The slowdown at LaGuardia rippled through the nation’s aviation system causing delays in Philadelphia, Newark and Atlanta. Though White House officials said an effort to end the stalemate was already in motion the day before, some viewed the flight delays as a glaring sign the shutdown had to end immediately. Many credited the air traffic controllers for forcing the two sides to compromise.

There was speculation that many of the more than 1,800 controllers who were eligible for retirement in December would exercise that option, further exacerbating personnel challenges. But only 87 have filed retirement papers, the FAA said Tuesday. During the first quarter of 2018, 142 controllers retired, the agency said.

“We have not seen an increase in retirements,” an FAA spokesman said.

Jirs Meuris, an assistant professor of management and human resources at the University of Wisconsin at Madison said that while the rest of the country may have moved on, many federal workers, not to mention critical safety programs, have not.

“The first shutdown created very long-term problems,” Meuris said. “It posed threats to our security — and those effects will be felt for a very long time if we have a second shutdown.”

And then there is the impact on worker morale. Meuris said research shows that workers grappling with financial anxiety because they aren’t getting paid may have a difficult time focusing on their jobs. “The uncertainty of whether there is going to be a second shutdown is really going to increase the anxiety,” he said.

Bilello said that at the TSA, “I have not heard there are any issues with morale. In fact, just the opposite.”

The lapse in funding gave“the traveling public a better idea of what TSA does and a better understanding of the men and women who take their jobs very seriously. There’s a newfound mutual respect,” Bilello said. Given the outpouring of supportive sentiment from passengers during the shutdown, officers “probably feel more valued than ever before.”

But Meuris said that even if negotiators are able to avert a shutdown this week, managers still face the challenge of rebuilding morale among employees who feel as if they were merely pawns with little control over their destiny.

Yes, federal workers may be committed to their agencies and their missions, but the shutdown still may have eroded that dedication. And once that has happened, Meuris said, “getting that trust back is going to take a long time.”