Homeland Security Denies 'Hundreds' of TSA Agents Are Staging 'Sick Out' Amid Government Shutdown

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the amount of TSA agents calling out sick has been "grossly misrepresented"

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security is vehemently denying a new report claiming that hundreds of Transportation Security Administration screeners are calling out sick amid the ongoing government shutdown.

With the federal government shutdown nearing its third week, CNN on Friday reported a dramatic increase in the amount of TSA agents — who have been required to continue working without paychecks — calling out sick. Noting that there’s currently no end in sight for the shutdown, the outlet pointed out that a lack of agents could result in a lapse of security.

DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton went on to deny the report.

“Security operations at airports have not been impacted by a non-existent sick out,” he tweeted in part on Friday. “CNN has the cell numbers of multiple @TSA public affairs professionals, but rather than validate statistics, they grossly misrepresented them.

CNN reported a 200-300 percent increase in agents calling out sick at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and also claimed that throughout the first week of January, as many as 170 agents called out at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport each day.

TSA went on to issue their own statement, acknowledging that while the amount of call outs “have increased,” the safety of screening processes has not been affected.

“Call outs began over the Holiday period and have increased, but are causing minimal impact given there are 51,739 employees supporting the screening process,” the statement read. “Security effectiveness will not be compromised and performance stands will not change.”

Additionally, TSA reported that so far screening wait times continue to be “well within” their standards.

President Donald Trump went weighed in on the situation, siding against the news outlet, which the president condemns on a frequent basis.

“Great Tweet today by Tyler Q. Houlton @SpoxDHS on the #FakeNews being put out by @CNN, a proud member of the Opposition Party. @TSA is doing a great job!” he wrote.

CNN went on to respond to Trump, writing that while Trump “may not like the truth,” TSA did confirm that the number of call outs had increased.

“CNN spoke to numerous TSA & union officials & cited data provided by unions for our report. TSA itself put out a statement acknowledging increased call-outs after we published. @spoxdhs & @realdonaldtrump may not like the truth but that won’t stop us from reporting,” the news outlet wrote, adding the hashtag “FactsFirst.”

The president’s insistence on funding for a proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico led to the latest government shutdown, which began Dec. 22. Democrats, empowered by a decisive victory in last year’s midterm elections, have dismissed Trump’s demands.

In absence of a path forward, the shutdown could become the longest in American history, surpassing the previous record of 21 days in the ’90s, under President Bill Clinton and a Republican-led Congress, according to CNN.

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