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January 07, 2019

Chairman Thompson Inquires on Shutdown Effects on TSA

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to request more information on the security and workforce effects the government shutdown is having on the agency:

Letter excerpt:

On Friday, CNN reported that hundreds of TSA officers from at least four major airports called out from work last week.  As you are aware, TSA officers are required to work without pay during the shutdown. Despite providing essential government services, TSA officers are among the lowest paid Federal employees, with many living paycheck-to-paycheck. Officers may not be able to pay for rent, child care, and other necessities if their paychecks do not arrive on time.

The fact that the overwhelming majority of officers have reported for duty without fail in the face of such challenges is a testament to their dedication to service. Still, it is only reasonable to expect officer call outs and resignations to increase the longer the shutdown lasts, since no employee can be expected to work indefinitely without pay.

I appreciate TSA’s statement that “security effectiveness will not be compromised and performance standards will not change” due to staffing shortages.  However, I am concerned if wait times and public pressure increase, some TSA managers may try to manage the effects of the shutdown in ways that are detrimental to security. The security of aviation passengers must always be paramount. 

Link to letter

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Media contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978