CNN and other news outlets are reporting that as much as ten percent of the TSA workforce called out sick Sunday amidst the ongoing government shutdown.
Despite the tremendous lack of staffing, the TSA reported that wait times continued to hover within the average, although certain airports were hit harder than others.
“Yesterday’s complete figures show that TSA experienced a national rate of 10 percent of unscheduled absences compared to a 3.1 percent rate one year ago on the same day, Jan. 20, 2018. Many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations.” — TSA
While the public has been made aware of the overall number of TSA call outs, agency management sent a memo to its employees last week urging them to keep the call out statistics for individual airports private.
“Do not offer specific call out data at your airport. You can say you have experienced higher numbers of call outs but in partnership with the airport and airlines you are able to manage people and resources to ensure effective security is always maintained.” — TSA
This scripted response flies in the face of the undeniable reality that such drastic staff shortages are undoubtedly affecting the quality of security in our airports; in fact, the simple fact that the entire world knows we’re in the midst of a crippling, record-setting shutdown and that our airports are understaffed is enough of a security risk in itself because of the opportunity it presents to ill-intentioned parties.
While there is a vote scheduled to take place on Capitol Hill this week to reopen the government, the House and Senate have put forth vastly different proposals and are unlikely to find a middle ground based on both past evidence as well as the current mindset of both chambers of Congress.
The president, meanwhile, has upped the ante by offering funds for humanitarian aid, and immigration judges, as well as three years of deportation relief to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children as well as certain immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in exchange for $5.7 billion for his proposed border wall.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, made clear that such an offer was a “non-starter.”
While many people on both sides of the aisle are now pressuring Democrats to give in to the president’s demands simply to give people their paychecks as the shutdown draws on into painful territory, to do so would effectively enable the president to shut down the government and hold the nation hostage whenever he is unable to get something he wants.
It may be painful and costly, but if we are to maintain any hope of preventing something like this from happening again, Democrats must hold strong and keep the American people and our government from becoming bargaining chips.