TSA gets almost $500 million for pay raises, new hires, despite scathing watchdog review 

$1.7 trillion omnibus bill also expanded collective bargaining rights for air passenger screening force's non-supervisory officers.

Published: February 4, 2023 12:30pm

Updated: February 4, 2023 11:13pm

The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just The News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The award is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is receiving $400 million for employee pay raises, $61 million more to hire employees, and expanded collective bargaining rights, which could lead to future pay increases, according to reports.

OpenTheBooks and Reason reported that the TSA will receive $400 million as part of the 4,000-plus-page, $1.7 trillion omnibus bill passed with the aid of 18 Republicans in the Senate and signed into law in December.

The pay raises come on the heels of a recent report that noted numerous problems with the TSA, according to OpenTheBooks.com. "These raises are not a result of service improvements," wrote Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of the federal spending watchdog site. "On the contrary, a recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office has noted problems with discrimination in the screening process and issues with notifying passengers of the complaint process."

The TSA concurred with the cited GAO report on Aviation Security.

Reason was even more blunt about the failings of the intrusive yet porous screening methods of the agency.

"The raises might rightfully infuriate Americans who have to keep paying the tab for (and keep getting fondled by) a federal agency that, more than 20 years after it was created to combat airplane-related terrorism, has still never foiled a single attack and routinely fails to stop weapons and other illegal substances from being smuggled aboard commercial aircraft," the libertarian outlet fumed. "The federal government is more than $30 trillion in debt and borrowed nearly 50 cents of every dollar spent last month, so fattening the paychecks of the rent-a-cops who patrol the nation's airports probably shouldn't be a top priority — but the same thing could be said for a host of other items in the omnibus bill."

A TSA spokesperson told Just The News that the funding will address the pay disparity between TSA employees and other federal workers.

"On December 29, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 into law," a TSA spokesperson said. "The appropriated funding will bring TSA employee compensation to a level commensurate with other federal agencies. After years of advocating for fair pay for TSA employees, the funding allows the agency to bring pay rates in alignment with other federal agencies, effective July 1, 2023." 

Transportation Security Officers (TSO) "have generally been paid up to 30% less than their federal counterparts — while continuing to serve on the frontlines of national security as highly trained professionals," the spokesperson said. "The funding also expands collective bargaining rights for TSA's non-supervisory TSOs as well as new computed tomography and credential authentication technology acquisitions that will significantly enhance our checkpoint screening capabilities."

The workers' new collective bargaining rights do not include a right to strike. 

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