What to Know in Washington: Some TSA Workers Risk Losing Raises

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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.

Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg
TSA canine handler and explosives detection specialist Peter Suh and dog Messi at the July 27 press conference at Reagan National Airport.

An exodus of TSA employees would also lengthen travelers’ wait times during a year already riddled with travelers’ headaches from air delays and cancellations.

Read more: Longer Lines at Airports Loom Without Pay Boost for TSA Officers

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.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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