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Among provisions of a bill (HR-903) the House recently passed regarding the TSA workforce is what would be a first of its kind bonus for onsite work during the pandemic.

Says a report summarizing the bill: “This section requires the TSA administrator to provide, not later than 90 days following the date of enactment, a one-time bonus payment of $3,000 to each transportation security officer, federal air marshal, canine handler, or other TSA employee carrying out duties that require substantial contact with the public during the COVID–19 national emergency.”


The bill now moves to the Senate where its prospects are uncertain. The main thrust of the bill would be to shift TSA employees into standard civil service policies including for pay-setting and appeal rights, provisions the House has passed in prior years without the Senate following suit. The provision for a financial bonus for frontline work was not in earlier version.

Enactment of such a bonus—either as part of that bill or in some other way such as through a later appropriations bill covering TSA—almost certainly would set a precedent for calls to do the same for other federal employees also having “substantial contact with the public” during the pandemic.

That could include, for example, medical workers of the VA, DoD and other agencies, employees in occupations such as law enforcement and other first responders, and various types of safety inspectors.

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2022 Federal Employees Handbook