Are TSA Officers Playing Explicit Rap Songs Over Airport Speakers Amid Government Shutdown?
Travis Scott and Kanye West are among the uncensored artists Twitter users have alleged hearing over the speakers at John F. Kennedy International Airport
The ongoing government shutdown seems to be leading to some interesting music selections for travelers in New York City.
According to many Twitter users, the speakers at John F. Kennedy International Airport have been streaming explicit versions of rap songs from artists like Travis Scott and Kanye West for at least the past few weeks.
“Knowing that our man Kanye’s masterpiece poop diddy woop scoop was blasted through jfk airport by tsa today at 6:30 AM IS THE FUNNIEST THING IVE HEARD,” one Twitter user wrote on Thursday, referencing the bizarre lyrics on West’s track “Lift Yourself.”
However, a TSA spokesperson tells PEOPLE, “TSA doesn’t have access to the public address system at JFK. I have been advised that the system is accessed by the individual operators and the [Port Authority of New York and New Jersey].”
Business Insider reports that a spokesperson for the Port Authority told them that TSA officers and other airport employees are able to choose the music played at certain terminals. The TSA spokesman disputed this however, reiterating that was his understanding TSA agents don’t have PA access at any terminals.
The Port Authority did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
As the longest shutdown in U.S. history continues, more agencies are feeling its impact. While airlines are privately owned and can continue to operate, an estimated 51,000 TSA agents are among the 800,000 government employees who are expected to show up to work without receiving a paycheck.
Department of Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton tweeted, “Security operations at airports have not been impacted by a non-existent sick out. CNN has the cell numbers of multiple @TSA public affairs professionals, but rather than validate statistics, they grossly misrepresented them.”
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On Tuesday, however, the TSA said in a statement that they are experiencing more than double the normal number of call-outs (a national rate of 6.8 percent unscheduled absences, compared to 2.5 percent at this time last year).
Both Miami and Houston International Airports have shut down some TSA checkpoints — with Houston closing an entire terminal — to try and get ahead of potential issues posed by the shutdown, USA Today reported.
However, the TSA maintains that flying is as safe as ever.
“Security standards will NOT and have NOT been compromised,” TSA’s Asst. Administrator for Public Affairs Michael Bulello wrote on Twitter Friday. “TSA has and will continue to maintain security standards at our nation’s airports.”
The government closed on Dec. 22 in the wake of President Donald Trump‘s call for funding for a proposed billion-dollar southern border wall.
The president, 72, claims he needs the wall to stem a “crisis” of drugs, violence and human trafficking. Congressional Democrats, empowered by the midterms, have rejected that — calling a wall immoral and ineffective and offering to negotiate about border security once the government is reopened.
By day 22, negotiations were still fruitless, making this shutdown 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.
It currently remains unclear how or when the shutdown will end.