(ReliableNews.org) – In early November, President Joe Biden’s administration announced it was resetting the COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline to January 4 for federal contractors (e.g., Boeing and American Airlines), matching the date for private-sector employers. Yet, the new deadline doesn’t apply to federal employees like airline TSA workers and other airline personnel, who face a November 22 deadline. Now, Republicans are expressing concern the president could throttle holiday travel.
On Monday, November 8, Republicans on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure sent letters to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Stephen Dickson and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske asking what the plan is after the November 22 vaccine deadline. Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Garret Graves (R-LA) expressed concern the vaccine mandates combined with the holiday air travel demands and fewer workers are “creating a perfect storm.”
40% of TSA employees were unvaccinated as of Oct. 20… 20K screeners could be gone on Nov. 22 if they don't get their first shot by today.@RepSamGraves and @RepGarretGraves are demanding answers on how the Biden administration will handle the fallout.https://t.co/gEyMoQZEyU
— T&I Committee Republicans (@TransportGOP) November 8, 2021
In the letter to Pekoske, the lawmakers pointed out only about 60% of TSA’s employees have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, roughly 20,000 have not taken the vaccine yet. They want to know if those workers will lose their jobs at the end of the month.
The Republicans discussed with Stephen Dickson the widespread airline disruptions that have already taken place. They pointed out “even minor issues with worker shortages or equipment and crew availability can spiral quickly out of control.” They worry the mandates will force the aviation industry to a breaking point.
The Biden administration has not yet released a plan to shore up the industry or prepare for mass firings.
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