House to require TSA to protect veterans' rights to employment

When TSA was started after the 9/11 attacks, the agency was exempted from USERRA to help them hire people more quickly. But Walz and most other House members are expected to confirm this week that the exemption is no longer needed.

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"After a decade, TSA no longer requires special hiring authorities that it required when newly created," the House Veterans' Affairs Committee said after it approved the bill earlier this year. "With more than 10,000 veterans among the agency's employees, representing 20 percent of the Transportation Security officer workforce, TSA, like any other federal agency, should be required to comply with the same USERRA rules as other federal agencies and private employers.

"While TSA's goal is to enact security procedures for security checkpoints at our nation's airports, maximizing transportation security, compliance with USERRA is not an impediment to TSA's efforts," the report added. "In fact, providing USERRA rights to service members employed by TSA should bring a level of stability to that workforce."

While TSA is not legally required to adhere to the USERRA, TSA has said it is already mostly in compliance. Supporters of the bill, however, argue that approving the bill would prevent a future administration from deviating from this practice.

The House will also consider another bill this week aimed at protecting the rights of service members, this time relating to their rights to child custody. The Servicemember Family Protection Act, H.R. 4201, would require that if a court renders a temporary custody decision based on the deployment of a parent, it will return to the prior custody arrangement once that parent returns, unless doing so is not in the child's interest.

The bill, from Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), would also prevent courts from considering deployment as a factor in certain child custody proceedings.

Both bills are expected to be approved under a suspension of House rules either Wednesday, Thursday or possibly Friday.