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Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Rep. Katko, Sen. Wicker address potential TSA workforce shortage due to vaccination requirement

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U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) asked David Pekoske, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), for an update on the agency’s contingency plan for a potential workforce reduction due to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for federal employees in a letter on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, it appears TSA is headed toward a scenario in which up to 40 percent of its workforce may not be compliant with the President’s Executive Order by the November 8 deadline. Such a scenario could have severe impacts on transportation security and the aviation, travel, and tourism industries,” Katko, ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Wicker, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, wrote.

On Sept. 9, Biden signed an Executive Order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for federal employees, including employees of the Department of Homeland Security, which encompasses the TSA’s frontline airport screener workforce. TSA has previously stated that about 60 percent of its workforce has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, leaving 40 percent of the administration’s workforce potentially ineligible for employment after the deadline, the congressmen said.

“Being vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way for TSA employees to protect themselves, their coworkers, their families, and their communities against the virus,” the members wrote. “However, based on the current percentage of vaccination amongst the TSA workforce, we are concerned about the potential disruptions significant non-compliance with the President’s EO could have on the agency’s operations.”

The lawmakers asked Pekoske for an update on the agency’s contingency plan as soon as possible.