Since Congress passed the short-term funding measure Friday, the government has been temporarily reopened for the next three weeks. While it’s unclear if the government will again be partially shutdown after the measure expires on Feb. 15, the reopening was a relief to many of the federal employees that had been working without pay for 35 days straight.
Airports were especially affected by the shutdown. With unpaid TSA officers calling out sick at unusually high rates, wait times at some security checkpoints crested at hour and a half wait times. A flight from New Orleans to Dallas even had to be canceled due to the lack of screeners. It wasn’t much better for the ATC unit, who experienced such severe staffing shortages on Friday that flights had to be diverted and rerouted from LaGuardia Airport (LGA) at the last minute.
The Trump Administration has been “urging” federal agencies to prioritize backpay following the shutdown, and that compensation seems like it’s their first order of business. Trump also signed the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act — which ensures both furloughed and employees left unpaid on the job will receive retroactive pay after the shutdown ends. The White House states that these employees will be paid “in the coming days” — but what exactly does that mean?
According to a TSA spokesperson, all employees are slated to receive compensation for the missed pay periods on or before Jan. 31, but the exact date hasn’t been decided yet. This goes for ATC workers as well.
On Monday, TSA agents still seemed to be eager to get their paychecks, according to journalists traveling through US airports.
“I just hope we get paid before they shut down again,” said the TSA agent checking my passport at Dulles.
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) January 28, 2019
TSA officer who searched my bag told me he’s got a couple weeks before he’ll see his backpay. “It was 35 looong days. I need that money NOW.” #ShutdownStories
— Jada Yuan (@jadabird) January 28, 2019
Before the temporary funding that ended the shutdown, TSA Administrator David Pekoske had rerouted some of the agency’s budget to help partially pay security screeners while the government remained closed. That paycheck is also in the works.
“We had processed that pay prior to the announcement and passage of the Continuing Resolution, so those employees will receive a partial pay for PP26 [2018’s 26th pay period] and full pay for PP1 [the first pay period of 2019] by Jan 31. For those employees, the remainder of PP26 along with any necessary overtime and other corrections will pay out with PP2 on February 9.”
Featured image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.