The TSA will pay its screener force, which has been working without pay during the shutdown, for one week of back pay, after scraping up enough money left over from last year’s funds.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske tweeted this morning that employees working without pay — who are in the majority at the agency — will get "a partial payment" for the first two-week pay period since the political stalemate began.
A TSA spokesman told POLITICO that the pay period covers Dec. 23 through Jan. 5 and that the agency is able to do this by pulling the money from remaining fiscal 2018 appropriations. TSA similarly used fiscal 2018 money to provide $500 bonuses and one-day payments to workers earlier this month.
Employees slated to receive paychecks include TSA screeners and explosives teams, as well as aviation and surface transportation inspectors, according to an internal TSA accounting document obtained by POLITICO. This partial paycheck is being sent to most employees making $90,000 or less per year, the spokesman said. He added that federal air marshals are excluded, even if they meet that criteria, but will receive separate performance awards payments.
Pekoske announced earlier this week that TSA also would cover parking and transit for employees through next month and continue to seek other ways to provide compensation.
"Challenging circumstances force challenging decisions," he tweeted. "I fully recognize anything short of full paychecks are a partial measure, and in no way compensates the #TSA workforce for the financial burden many are experiencing."
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he was glad TSA managed to figure out how to give people at least a partial paycheck, but it “does not make up for how much these frontline workers are owed and they deserve better. Officers also won’t even know how much pay they will be receiving and will therefore be unable to budget for it. This is no way to run a government and it is time for the president to end the shutdown.”
The move could prompt the FAA to follow suit. Its air traffic controller and some of its aircraft inspector workforce has also been working without pay. On Thursday the FAA announced that it, too, would pay controllers for one day of back pay, as TSA had done previously.