TSA employees will keep their pay raises under 2024 spending deal

Pay at TSA was reportedly one of the crunch-time issues for lawmakers negotiating the contentious fiscal 2024 homeland security spending bill.

After some last-minute uncertainty, Transportation Security Administration employees will keep their pay raises under the 2024 spending compromise reached by Congress this week.

The fiscal 2024 homeland security appropriations measure includes $1.1 billion to continue the pay increases at TSA that began last July. Those raises brought TSA salaries in line with the rest of the federal government. The agency is already reporting drastically reduced attrition rates as a result of the pay bump.

Some Republican lawmakers had advanced legislation to reverse the higher pay rates for some non-Transportation Security Officer employees. The issue was reportedly among the areas of contention this week as appropriators raced to reach an agreement on the homeland security spending bill.

But the final bill ultimately continues the new pay rates, at least through the end of this fiscal year. In a statement, American Federation for Government Employees President Everett Kelley applauded the provision for TSA pay.

“We are very happy that Congress is providing the Transportation Security Administration with the funding it needs to competitively pay its workers and address recruiting and retention challenges that affect everyone who travels by air,” Kelley said.

However, the funding of TSA pay, separate from other federal employees, through the appropriations process means the issue will continue to be subject to the often-protracted annual battle in Congress over spending.

Meanwhile, TSA recently reached a landmark, seven-year collective bargaining agreement with AFGE. The union ratified the contract last week. TSA leadership is reviewing the final details before signing off.

Border Patrol hiring

With border issues taking center stage in the debate over the spending bill, the agreement ultimately provided $496 million to swell the Border Patrol’s ranks to 22,000 agents. It also includes $125 million for Border Patrol overtime pay.

Customs and Border Protection is currently recruiting Border Patrol agents at the GS-11 level. The agency is offering a $20,000 recruitment incentive for agents who successfully complete the academy and another $10,000 to those who complete three years at a “hard-to-fill” location.

The spending bill also includes $20 million to hire an additional 150 CBP officers to support counter fentanyl efforts.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is forecasting additional hiring increases for CBP and TSA in fiscal 2025 budget plans.

The homeland security package also includes $11.5 million for CBP’s suicide prevention and wellness efforts, as well as “employee onsite clinicians and child back-up care,” according to a summary of the legislation.

CISA funding cut

For the first time in years, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will see a slight cut to its annual budget. The bill allocates $2.873 billion for CISA in fiscal 2024, about $34 million below the fiscal 2023 levels and $183.3 million below the Biden administration’s budget request.

Compared to last year, CISA will receive about $47 million less for the Joint Collaborative Environment program and $66 million less for the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program. At the same time, CISA will see a new funding line of $145 million for its Cyber Analytics and Data System effort.

CISA’s Chemical Security program also received a $15 million year-over-year cut in the bill. Lawmakers have yet to reauthorize the agency’s key chemical security inspections program.

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