Union warns of looming shutdown's toll on TSA agents

Union warns of looming shutdown's toll on TSA agents
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The union that represents Transportation Security Administration workers said Friday that a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security would hurt TSA agents who are married twice as much as it would harm other employees of the agency. 

“TSOs have lots of reasons to worry about a DHS shutdown; being forced to work without pay would be enough to unnerve anyone. But for Vaughn and Tammy Glenn, there is twice the anxiety: Both are TSOs at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and they’re married to one another,” the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) wrote in a blog post on its website. 

“If Congress shuts down the Department of Homeland Security this week, both would go without a paycheck,” the union continued. “That means no income for the mortgage, the car note, or even groceries.” 

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Federal funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, is scheduled to expire Friday night unless Congress reaches an agreement on an extension by the end of the day. 

The Homeland Security funding has become entangled in a standoff among lawmakers over U.S. immigration policy.

The DHS funding was exempted from a measure that extended most other federal agency's appropriations until September. Congress passed that plan late last year, after President Obama issued an executive order making changes to the nation's immigration rules. 

Republicans accused Obama of acting unconstitutionally, and they have sought to use DHS funding as an opportunity to extract concessions from the president on immigration. 

Democrats have defended the legality of Obama's immigration actions and called for GOP leaders to approve a "clean" Homeland Security bill. 

The House is scheduled to vote on such a clean measure to fund the Homeland Security Department on Friday, and the Senate is expected to quickly follow suit just ahead of the deadline for the cutoff in the agency’s funding. 

The AFGE said Congress should consider cases like the Glenns' when they debate the Homeland Security Department’s funding. 

“Despite being the very people who keep bombs off the planes, they don’t get paid a whole lot. He makes $42,000 a year,” the union wrote. “She makes $37,000. So if TSA shuts down and they don’t get paid, they won’t be able to pay next month’s mortgage. And the bank won’t care.”