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Transportation Security Administration workers knew to temper their excitement when long-sought raises hit their paychecks in July.
Congress approved the pay increases last year to bring TSA workers in line with other federal personnel, but House Republicans now say only transportation security officers (TSOs) who work at airport checkpoints should keep the raises. The plan to reel in raises would result in pay cuts for canine handlers, air marshals, administrative workers, and explosives specialists, among others.
The compensation fight — a footnote to higher-profile appropriations battles over abortion, border security, and other divisive topics — will affect thousands of TSA employees. It would shape recruitment and retention in an agency plagued by low morale, and could weaken one of the last lines of defense against deadly threats.
An exodus of TSA employees would also lengthen travelers’ wait times during a year already riddled with travelers’ headaches from air delays and cancellations.
The agency’s TSOs were making roughly 30% less than their counterparts in other agencies before their raises kicked in last month. Now, compensation for screeners in the top pay band starts at $49,000, an increase from $36,000, according to TSA data. For non-TSOs in a middle pay band that covers many explosives specialists and air marshals, base salaries now start at $59,000, up from $46,000.
The House Appropriations Committee advanced fiscal 2024 spending legislation for the Department of Homeland Security that includes $856 million to preserve pay increases for TSOs. A related provision bars the use of TSA operations funding on structural pay adjustments for anyone else. The Senate Appropriations Committee, by contrast, advanced a bill that includes $1.1 billion to preserve pay increases across the board.
Appropriators and party leaders in the Republican-led House and Democrat-led Senate will have to hash out a deal that can get sufficient support in both chambers and the White House during a particularly contentious appropriations cycle. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. The government will shut down if lawmakers can’t reach a fiscal 2024 deal, and TSA workers will be forced to temporarily work without pay or stay home, depending on their jobs. Read the full story from Ellen M. Gilmer.
- President Joe Biden will speak at the White House around 2 p.m. at an event about lowering health care costs. Vice President Kamala Harris will also participate.
- Around 3:45 p.m., Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Cost Rican President Rodrigo Chaves Robles.
- Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will deliver a briefing at 1 p.m.
Coming Up on Capitol Hill
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to bring together several technology industry chiefs to discuss the ramifications of AI — including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Also attending the Sept. 13 closed-door meeting are Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Nvidia co-founder Jensen Huang, and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) called on the FDA to close loopholes that delay competition to established drugs that enable big companies to keep high prices in place longer.
Politics, Probes, and 2024
Biden lamented the racist shooting in Jacksonville, Florida as he met with civil rights leaders, calling it a critical time for the US and urging Americans to speak out against hate crimes.
Staring at a March 4 trial on 2020 election obstruction charges, Donald Trump’s legal team has one possible strategy to delay or avoid it altogether: Tee up a high-stakes presidential immunity fight for the Supreme Court.
Trump’s proposal to institute a 10% tariff on almost all imports would cost American consumers $300 billion a year, result in the loss of 550,000 US jobs, and cut growth by 0.7%, according to a new analysis from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a 2024 Republican presidential hopeful, said China was closely watching the divisions and infighting that were on display in last week’s GOP debate.
What Else We’re Reading
Hurricane Idalia is forecast to move over the eastern Gulf of Mexico today and blast through northern Florida before nearing the Carolina coastline on Thursday. The storm could cause as much as $10 billion in damage and losses, according to disaster modeling firm Enki Research.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Chinese Premier Li Qiang today that the US wants to maintain economic ties with Beijing. Li called economic ties between the two nations the “ballast and anchor of stability” between them.
Presidents Biden and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will call for improved working conditions in the US and Brazil at a joint event in New York on the sidelines of next month’s UN General Assembly.
Montana youth activists in the first US climate case to make it to trial owe much of their victory to environmental provisions in the state’s constitution, infusing urgency into efforts in other states looking to adopt similar climate rights.
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