After previously denouncing press reports of higher than normal absences of airport security personnel during a partial government shutdown as "fake news," the Transportation Security Administration said on Wednesday that more of its employees are not showing up for work because of money issues caused by a missed paycheck last week, as the shutdown entered a 26th day with no resolution in sight.
In a news release, the TSA stated that "many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations," as the agency said its absentee rate was up from the same day a year ago.
On Monday, the TSA reported 6.8 percent of unscheduled absences, compared to 2.5 percent on the same day a year earlier. On Tuesday, the unscheduled absence rate was 6.1 percent, compared to 3.7 percent on that date in 2018.
The TSA did not provide any details on what airports might be experiencing the highest absentee rates for screeners, citing security concerns.
"Aviation security remains an essential priority, and TSA does not want to create any perception that an adversary could use specific information to determine possible vulnerabilities," the agency noted.
Back on January 4, Department of Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton ridiculed press reports of TSA airport staffing shortages, labeling it a 'non-existent sickout.'
But since then, multiple examples have surfaced at airports in Miami, Houston, and other cities, where checkpoints - or entire terminals - have been shuttered, because of a lack of security screeners.
If there is one group of workers impacted by the shutdown which members of Congress come into contact with the most - it would be TSA screeners at airport - as Democrats have repeatedly invoked stories of financial hardship involving furloughed federal workers.
The admission of "financial limitations" on workers not being employed came as the Trump Administration announced more federal employees are being called back to work - even though they can't be paid until the Congress and the President solve the shutdown impasse, which started December 22 in a dispute over money for the President's border wall.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Wednesday that Farm Service Agency workers would be brought back to their jobs for three days this month - all to help deal with a backlog of requests by farmers for financial aid, loans and other needs.
Also, thousands of workers at the Internal Revenue Service are being brought back to their jobs, to insure that the tax filing season begins on time, at the end of January.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.