An amendment passed on Thursday to ensure that individuals convicted of sex crimes, terrorism, and other violent offenses cannot be employed by the TSA.
However, 174 House Democrats voted against the amendment called Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act. This occurred despite their alleged support of the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct.
Meanwhile, forty-two Democrats rejected party leadership and voted alongside Republicans for the amendment.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said, “[The amendment] was pulled back by leadership because the socialist wing of the party did not want to have that amendment go forward on this bill.”
“When it was offered, overwhelmingly the majority of the House would like to see the TSA not hire terrorists or those who have been convicted of sexual misconduct with minors and others. But the socialist wing of the party, that controls now the Democratic Party, said that that could not be offered,” he added.
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Pelosi did not respond to a request for comment on why the amendment was pulled, nor did Underwood. Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, Pressley, and Hoyer did not respond to requests for comment about the bill.
Lesko argued in favor of the amendment by highlighting troubling examples of sexual misconduct by TSA screeners, including a Los Angeles screener who used fraud to falsely imprison and unclothe a woman going through security.
“Fortunately, this offender was immediately fired by the TSA. However, under this bill … this predator could be on the federal payroll for months or even years,” Lesko said. “We have two options today: Adopt the Underwood amendment and keep sexual predators off of the federal payroll, or reject it and reward sexual predators with a paycheck from the taxpayer.”
Though Rep. Val Demings (D., Fla.) argued against the amendment by calling it unnecessary, 42 Democrats voted in favor of it, including Underwood. Demings did not respond to a request for comment.
When the TSA was created in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, Congress exempted it from salary and workplace policies—known as Title 5—that apply to other federal workers in order to ensure flexibility. TSA workers unionized under the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) in 2011 and organizers have lobbied Congress to end the exemption, which would lead not only to pay increases for workers, but increased dues for union coffers.