In his role as the top Republican on the U.S. House Transportation & Maritime Security Subcommittee, last week, U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., raised concerns over potential travel disruptions during the upcoming holiday season.
The South Florida congressman said the disruptions are a result of the Biden administration’s vaccination mandate for federal workers, including Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers.
In a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, Gimenez wrote, “With press reports indicating that 40 percent of the TSA workforce is not yet confirmed to be vaccinated, I am concerned that the heavy-handed vaccine mandate the Biden administration has insisted upon could result in the discipline, attrition, or even termination of tens of thousands of TSA employees. Given that the deadline for compliance with the President’s Executive Order is the Monday just before Thanksgiving—the busiest air travel period of the year—I am concerned that the potential shortage of dedicated TSA employees may result in a catastrophic impact to the traveling public and the Nation’s airports during the busy holiday season.
“While I agree that having a fully vaccinated TSA workforce should be the objective, I believe that, like all Americans, federal employees should have the right to choose if and when they will receive the vaccine based on personal health considerations and their own timeline, not the federal government’s,” continued Gimenez.
“Additionally, with international travel to the U.S. resuming on November 8th and the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan leaving a blind spot in our security posture, the Biden administration should not be playing political games with our homeland security and frontline transportation security officers by threatening to terminate nearly half of the TSA force,” the congressman’s office insisted.
Gimenez requested that TSA provide answers to several questions, including:
What steps has TSA taken to encourage its workforce to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
What options, if any, do TSA employees have to undergo regular COVID-19 testing if they choose not to be vaccinated?
What is TSA’s plan for handling increased traffic volume at airport checkpoints if a large number of its Transportation Security Officers are not able to perform their screening duties or are terminated due to the administration’s Executive Order?
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