tv House Homeland Security Hearing on TSA Workforce CSPAN May 21, 2019 11:01am-11:29am EDT
about reassignments and getting their suggestions and recommendations on how they may be better utilized. is that -- >> you're correct. they are not. mrs. demmings: thank you, mr. chairman. i -- mrs. demings: thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> mr. cleaver, welcome. a football coach said he would remove me on the field if i got in a fight. this really does make me angry. i struggle with what i should -- come to the hearing. i'm so angry, which is not healthy. you know, as my coach said, the best players don't get angry.
i need to ask the question to mr. cox. can you tell me the people who stand between me getting on a plane every week -- i average 1,800 miles a week flying. what stands between me and somebody bringing some kind of xplosive on the plane? mr. cox: the only person standing between that is the t.s.a. agent who is screening that passenger and that luggage and the baggage that's going on that plane. that is the only one that's doing it. mr. cleaver: it's weird because people who drive people to the airport make more than t.s.a. people. people who take people away from the airport make more. the people who serve hamburgers make more. don't -- i don't curse.
hat's ass backwards. americans ought to be furious what's going on. we people these people almost nothing to save our lives every day. it bothers me and so we talk about transferring $232 million to build a wall, which people laugh about. what i need to also know, maybe will neal, you can answer this question for me -- maybe mr. neal, you can answer this question for me. what should we do to make sure they earn more money other than not spend $232 million and not take any money from their budget and use it towards -- what should we do? mr. neal: the quickest thing that can be done would be appropriating more labor
dollars that are targeted specifically to t.s.o. pay increases and make them base pay increases using the flexibilities of t.s.a. got that money on october 1. beginning the fiscal year, they could start paying people more money in october. so that would be the quickest way to get money in t.s.o.'s hands. mr. cleaver: but if we had -- we're contemplating taking $64 million from the compensation fund. how do -- i don't understand why can't the -- why couldn't the $64 million already be moved toward compensation? mr. neal: virtually any money they have, that's the right color of money, can be put in t.s.o. compensation. i don't know exactly which dollars they have available right now. and i'm not familiar with where
they're wanting to move money with border issues. that's totally outside the purview of my panel. all i see is what i see on the news. mr. cleaver: oh, so you're saying you probably don't believe what these newspapers are reporting? mr. neal: i didn't say that. all i know is what i read in the news, where they're moving money. mr. cleaver: ok. i represent kansas city, missouri. we are one of only two airports in the country, as probably mr. ox knows, where t.s.o.'s are private. they're not a part of the regular t.s.a. operation. kansas city and san francisco and about 20 other smaller airports around the country. and, you know, i actually know people by names.
they are not t.s.o.'s. i know their names. one young lady, i remember the morning she was born, ebony. going hen i see them all the way out to the kansas city international airport and realizing that they're not being compensated just drives me crazy and knowing how important the job is. my time has run out. i can do about 30 more minutes on this but my time has run out. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. cleaver. seeing no other members, we're going to move to a second round of questions. i'll recognize myself for first round of questions. as i'm listening to everybody on the panel and everybody hear on this dieas, we all agree somethinges that -- dais, we all agree something has to be done to give better pay to these individuals who are essentially underpaid. mr. correa: we have massive
turnover. mr. cleaver says he flies 1,800 miles a week. i fly 6,000 miles a week. all of us, though, agree that those are high-value assets in the sky in this country every day. and as i think about the pay, i am going to ask -- how do we move forward? what is it mechanically we can do, what is the next step here to move in that direction of equitable pay? had i'm not talking about equitable pay just for the sake equity, but reducing that turnover. i'm going to open it up for comments on the panel. mr. cox: put them on the g.s.a. pay scale. it's a pay scale that's working for all other federal employees. there's flexibility in that g.s.a. pay scale. there's locality pay. there's other specialty pay
that can be put on top of that for high cost areas. that's how it's working for all other federal employees. why are these people that keep us safe and done such a good job so lowly paid? mr. correa: mr. neal. mr. neal: actually, about 3/4 of federal employees are paid through the general schedule. about a quarter are paid in other pay systems. and so as president cox said, there are locality allowances, there are retention allowances, there are things you can do with the general schedule. many of them take a long time getting special salary rates approved for a particular location. can take o.p.m. a year or two or three years. so it's a very cumbersome pay process. during every presidential transition for the last dozen years or so, the partnership for public service, the
national academy of public administration, senior executives association, other good government organizations have recommended modernizing civil service pay. t.s.o. pay is a significant problem. there are other federal employees whose pay is suffering as well because the general schedule is not adequate to meet the needs. so -- mr. correa: i would say, mr. neal, given what these employees do, keeping us safe, we can talk about the border, the refugee crisis is a major issue, no doubt. we can debate how to address that issue, but i'll tell you, at we're guarding against at airports is individuals who have a goal and intent of bringing down one of our planes. apples to oranges here. we have to make sure these individuals are paid correctly so the turnover goes down so that we can remain safe, so to speak, on a day-to-day basis.
mr. kelly, very quickly. couple words on that. mr. kelly: t.s.a. has a finite amount of money to spend on all of its operations. we issued some reports recently that have identified hundreds of millions of dollars that are not necessarily being spent as efficiently and effectively as possible. mr. correa: you're talking about reallocation? mr. kelly: yes. mr. correa: mr. lyttle. mr. lyttle: i think it is extremely important and we have to look what's happening in specific regions. the turnover in our region in denver and nashville is extremely high. the economy is really booming in the puget sound region, and it's extremely competitive there. we have to pay the t.s.o.'s a competitive rate so we can attract and retain them. mr. correa: thank you very much. i'll yield my remaining time and turn to recognize mrs. lesko for five minutes of questions. mrs. lesko: thank you, mr. chairman.
and what i've heard today from i think all of the panelists is that there is obviously a retention issue. pay is one of the key factors. and i want to say to any t.s.o. that's watching, i do thank you for your service because you are protecting our nation. so i know -- i'm old enough to know that pay is part of the satisfaction of someone's work, but also serving a greater purpose is also part of satisfaction. they are serving a greater purpose of securing our nation and our airports. what i heard mr. neal say and, again, correct me if i'm wrong, is that in some markets, t.s.o.'s are getting paid a decent amount. and in other markets, where competitive pay is higher, they are not.
and that if you move to a title type of pay system that is old, and kuwaited, inflexible so you could end up actually rming more than the status quo in that some areas you need higher pay, other areas, because of the market influence, you need -- you know, you can get by with lower pay. it depends what area of the country you're in. one of the things that mr. neal brought up is that there is a -- i think you said nine months' delay between the time a t.s.o. applies for a job and when they actually get hired. why does it take so long? mr. neal: it's a very lengthy process. it's many steps that includes computer-based training. it includes interviews. it includes medical exam.
it includes a background investigation. all those things take a very long time. the amount of time that t.s.o. takes to do that, 270 days, you could give birth to a new employee in 270 days. it's far too long. and we believe there are a number of actions that could take to shorten that time considerably. it makes an enormous -- puts an enormous burden on an applicant who wants to be a t.s.o. if they put in a job application and they don't hear anything on it and don't actually start work for nine months. you tend to see lots of people just drop out of the process because they need a job and they are not going to take another job somewhere else and then just quit that one immediately to take the t.s.o. job. so that 270 days is an enormous problem and we do believe it could be shortened considerably. mrs. lesko: thank you. mr. kelly, was that part of your recommendation to decrease the amount of time between application and actually
getting hired? mr. kelly: we did recommend they improve their hiring process, yes. mrs. lesko: ok. do you know if the administer is carrying out that particular recommendation? mr. kelly: they have concurred with all of our recommendations. mrs. lesko: ok. all right. hopefully if he's listening, they'll work on that because i agree with you. it's kind of crazy if somebody needs a job they are not going to wait nine months unless they're independently wealthy and can live nine months without pay, which i highly doubt. in any case, i just want to make a last statement regarding the border security, because that's come up. and it is of concern to move t.s.a. employees to the border, even though they did so voluntarily, is my understanding. but it just goes to show what a crisis we have down at the border. i talked about this before. ime from arizona. we see -- i'm from arizona.
we see firsthand the border crisis that's coming before us. in fact, yuma, arizona, mayor text me. my phone. saying, ok, we have x number of people in our detentions, you know, areas, charities, and we don't have enough capacity and that type of thing. so i -- i've been on record before. we need to get together, democrats and republicans, to try to do some immigration reform. i also think right now, because it's an emergency situation, they need more funding so we can deal with this humanitarian and security crisis there and hopefully then we wouldn't have to bring t.s.a.'s over to the border. and with that i will yield back my time. mr. correa: thank you, mrs. lesko. i now recognize the chairman, mr. thompson, for five minutes of questions. mr. thompson: thank you very much. tost -- re we moving
t.s.o.'s out of t.s.a., but we have two viper teams scheduled to go to the border. we have federal air marshals scheduled to go to the border as well as well as other t.s.a. employees. if they are so valuable, how can we spare them to leave that valuable mission and go to the border? have some 5,000 vacancies within c.b.p. and other agencies along the border right now that have been vacant for quite a while. nobody comes and says to us, we need to hire these 5,000 people. every time c.b.p. or anybody has ever come to this committee and actually help. we've been gracious.
i think what i see now is the continued manufacturing of a crisis to the detriment of t.s.a. and some other agencies, which should not be. my challenge, too, if i'm good ough to be the lowest paid employee in t.s.a., but you going to send me to the border, working a higher paid job but you are going to pay me what i'm making at the airport, something's wrong with that. you can pay me at the airport. rules y concern is our t.s.a. , if the administer will request an increase in pay in the supplementals, anything that comes before congress, i don't think anybody will turn it down. but we don't get the request.
so it's not congress not getting more money. it's the department not requesting money for the workers that they say they love and appreciate and all of that. so i'm as concerned about it, the pay, but i'm more concerned that now we are putting airports at risk potentially as well as the traveling public in general by taking people away from airports and sending them to the border. mr. cox said he's not seen any strategy or not been consulted with his over 40,000 members what they will be doing if they are volunteering. i thank them for their volunteering but you have to have a plan. i'm not aware of any member of congress who's received
anything in writing or a briefing from the department as to what they propose to do along the border with these reassigned employees. so it's difficult to support something when you don't know what it is. i yield back. mr. correa: thank you. now recognize -- >> thank you, mr. chairman. i am not sure i have one. one thing i do know is that we ave got to bring some sanity back into this discussion. our airports, our ports of try, the safety of the traveling public, 46 million of them traveled through the orlt international airport last year. mrs. demings: the safety of the traveling public has to be a op priority.
and robbing peter to pay paul, to take officers from our ports of entry to transfer them down to the southern border -- we had the secretary of homeland security here a short while ago and i asked about violent incidents at the border where c.b.p. officers had been injured severely. she did not have the number. i would think if we had a crisis at the border, to the extent we keep hearing, she would know those numbers. so i then tried to make it easier saying, how about customs and border patrol officers had been killed in the line of duty. she first said 20 and then she said zero. we know at our ports of entry, overwhelming number of narcotics come through our ports of entry. e know we've had very volatile
, deadly situations at our ports of entry. yeah. we need to secure our borders. but you don't take from the most vulnerable areas, our ports of entry, in order to do that. i just think we -- you know, the talking points are wonderful, but we need to be really serious about our needs in terms of securing this nation and particularly at our ports of entry. i just had to say that. back to mr. kelly. you talked about -- we heard about nine months that it takes, and even that, if it takes nine months before an officer is ready for duty, we're going to further strain the workforce by sending them so the -- to the border.
that doesn't make sense to me. that's this member talking. mr. kelly, you talked about some recommendations that were made, and forgive me if you kind of already talked about how retention and recommendations that were made to improve that process. but you also made some recommendations in terms of training. addressing some training issues. mr. kelly: that is correct. mrs. demings: can you share with me how you prioritized those recommendations to the t.s.a.? mr. kelly: we didn't prioritize them. we made nine recommendations. we thought they were all important to be implemented. and we expect all of those nine recommendations to be implemented. mrs. demings: do you know where we are in that process in terms of implementation? mr. kelly: three of the recommendations t.s.a. has implemented so they're closed. mrs. demings: which ones? mr. kelly: off the top i don't know.
three have been implemented. we have closed them. the remaining six have been resolved, which means t.s.a. has recommended or given us actions they plan on taking that we believe address our concerns but have not yet been implemented. so they have a plan to implement the other six but they have not closed. mrs. demings: mr. chairman, thank you. i yield back. mr. correa: i want to thank the witnesses for their valuable testimony today and all of the members here for their most important questions. members of the subcommittee may have additional questions for the witnesses. and we ask that you respond to such expeditiously in writing. without objection, this committee record shall be kept open for 10 days. hearing no further business, this subcommittee stands adjourned. thank you very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the
flexibility. also today, nine bills dealing with veterans' issues. live coverage when the house gavels in again at noon eastern here on c-span. former white house counsel don mcgahn did not testify citing a justice department legal opinion he has immunity because he was a presidential advisor. you can see what happened tonight starting at 9:00 eastern here on c-span. you can also watch online at c-span.org or listen with the free c-span radio app. tomorrow, treasury secretary steven mnuchin will testify on the international financial system. c-span3 will have live coverage of that house financial services committee hearing tomorrow morning. it starts at 9:00 eastern. again, on c-span3. and rolling thunder will hold its last memorial day ride here in washington, d.c. this weekend. the motorcycle procession known as ride for freedom has been a tradition for 30 years.
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