TSA employees are part of the 400,000+ working without pay as a result of the partial government shutdown. Numerous airport screeners are calling in sick and not reporting to work. Consequently, security checkpoints have longer, slower lines. TSA agents, air traffic controllers, and customs and immigration officials are all required to work without pay.
Factually, more TSA employees have been calling in sick since the government shut down and this is presumably not a coincidence. Multiple press outlets reported on this phenomenon but only CNN, who released the first report, is getting heat from the White House.
CNN spoke to numerous TSA & union officials & cited data provided by unions for our report. TSA itself put out a statement acknowledging increased call-outs after we published. @spoxdhs & @realdonaldtrump may not like the truth but that won’t stop us from reporting. #FactsFirst
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) January 5, 2019
The partial government shutdown started three weeks ago. As employees’ funds are depleted and they do not know when they can expect their next paycheck, some are thinking of finding another job or cutting any extraneous expenses to make ends meet.
In a statement, TSA explicitly told CNBC, “We have seen some call outs over the holiday period and they have increased, but are causing minimal impact given there are 51,739 employees supporting the screening process.” Screening wait times have not yet spiraled out of control for lack of TSA employees.
Folks working without pay are not just calling in sick to protest the partial government shutdown. Some cannot invest in childcare for the time being and stay home for their children.
A Customs and Border Protection officer relayed to CNBC that people are “suffering” but are present for work on account of the oath they took upon taking their jobs. In a letter dated January 2 and addressed to President Trump, the Air Line Pilots Association attributed disruptions in network operations to the shutdown. Unions representing air traffic controllers and airline pilots asked for an immediate end to the partial government shutdown. The shutdown is said to disturb federal safety oversight activities.
On Friday, President Trump warned the shutdown could last for years during a news conference in the Rose Garden. Congress is adjourned until Tuesday, therefore next Wednesday is the earliest the government can reopen.
The partial shutdown will have lasted 18 days by then, making it the second-longest government shutdown in recent history. In 1995-1996, the government was closed for 21 days under President Bill Clinton because of a disagreement between him and the GOP over balancing the budget within seven years. Senate Republicans caved to reopen the government.
A McConnell adviser, Josh Holmes, said McConnell was focusing on keeping the caucus intact. Per The Washington Post, Holmes stated, “He knows exactly where the leverage points are on negotiations like this. He’s certainly not going to provide Democrats with an opportunity to exploit Republican divisions. So he’s going to provide a unified front here to get the president the best deal he can.” Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) left deal-making to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). In the meantime, President Trump may declare a national emergency to build the border “wall” and top Trump Administration officials like Pence get a pay raise as federal workers go weeks without pay.
Featured image via Flickr/U.S. Department of Homeland Security