Ranking Members Sam Graves & Garret Graves Ask Administration for Plans to Handle Vaccine Mandate Disruptions to Aviation System
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA) are asking for details from the Biden administration about its plans for handling the disruptive impacts its overreaching COVID-19 vaccine mandate could have on the Nation’s aviation system in light of the upcoming busy holiday travel season.
The Ranking Members wrote to the heads of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with the November 22, 2021, deadline for federal workers’ full vaccination under the President’s executive order approaching. The Ranking Members write, “We are concerned that vaccine mandates combined with a pre-existing worker shortage and anticipated return of holiday air travel demands are compounding and creating a perfect storm.”
According to the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) guidance issued on October 1st, “…employees who refuse to be vaccinated or provide proof of vaccination are subject to disciplinary measures, up to and including removal or termination from Federal service.” In order for any unvaccinated federal workers to meet that November 22nd deadline, they have to complete their vaccination doses by today, November 8th. Under the OPM guidance, federal agencies can begin enforcement procedures against employees who have chosen not to get vaccinated tomorrow.
In their letter to FAA Administrator Dickson, the Ranking Members write, “Many airline employees, including airline pilots, are considering retiring or quitting over the mandate, while some have even sued. Recent large scale airline operational disruptions have demonstrated our aviation system is operating with very little slack, meaning that even minor issues with worker shortages or equipment and crew availability can spiral quickly out of control. We are very concerned that even a small number of terminations at the FAA and the airlines due to the vaccine mandate will stretch our fragile aviation system to the breaking point during the traditionally busy travel season.”
In their letter to TSA Administrator Pekoske, they write, “As of October 20, 2021, news reports indicate that only about 60% of TSA employees are at least partially vaccinated. That means as many as 40%, or 20,000 screeners, are not yet fully vaccinated as of today’s deadline.”