Here’s How the Government Shutdown Affects the Transportation Security Administration

Millions of Americans who packed airports over the holiday season were screened by Transportation Security Administration officers who have been working without pay throughout the partial government shutdown.

“Since the government shutdown on December 21, roughly 2.5 million holiday travelers each day have passed through airport security checkpoints staffed by Transportation Security officers who aren’t getting paid,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement.

The partial government shutdown that began at midnight on Dec. 22 affects about a quarter of federal government functions, including agencies within the Department of Homeland Security.

Lasting more than two weeks, the shutdown has left thousands of federal employees without paychecks until Congress and the White House can reach a compromise on appropriations as President Trump demands $5 billion in border wall funding.

Like most government websites, TSA.gov is not being actively managed during the shutdown.

Report: TSA Employees Calling Out Sick

Of TSA’s 60,078 employees, 55,182 must continue working without pay until an appropriations bill is passed and signed, according to a DHS directive released on Dec. 17. The mean salary for a TSA employee is $40,960, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and several airports are experiencing a large number of TSA employees who are not showing up for their scheduled shifts, CNN reported Friday, citing unnamed agency officials and union reps.

DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton denounced CNN’s report as “fake news.”

Hydrick Thomas, president of the American Federation of Government Employees’ TSA Council 100, told CNN that up to 170 TSA employees have called out sick every day this week at John F. Kennedy International Airport. There has also been an exponential increase in employees calling out at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, CNN reported.

“This will definitely affect the flying public who we (are) sworn to protect,” Thomas said.

On Friday, TSA tweeted that “call outs began over the holiday period and have increased, but are causing minimal impact given there are 51,739 employees supporting the screening process.”

“Security effectiveness will not be compromised and performance stands will not change,” the agency added.

More on the Government Shutdown: 

Multimedia journalist James Cullum is Managing Editor of Homeland Security Today's Federal Pages. He has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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