"They're not saying, 'We're going to shut things down.' They are the lowest-paid employees in the federal government, and they don't have the money to get to work".
Not only that, many employees who called in sick were out looking for work during the shutdown.
Union officials stress that the absences are not part of an organized action, but believe the number of people calling out will likely increase.
DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton went on to deny the report.More news: Brazil to move embassy to Jerusalem: Bolsonaro
This could open a security gap by reducing scrutiny of passengers, or slow down processing and snarl airports.
TSA spokesman Michael Bilello said the agency is "closely monitoring the situation" and that "screening wait times remain well within TSA standards", although that could change if the number of call outs increases.
The massive lines at the airport happened as the partial government shutdown entered its third week and callouts by agents with the Transportation Security Administration ticked up, according to statistics from the agency.
Other airport employees called the situation unmanageable and said frantic passengers were left crying in line. However, others are simply parents struggling to feed their families who have found temporary alternative ways to earn, or who have been forced to stay home because they can't afford to pay for child care costs since they've been told to work unpaid.
'This staffing crisis is negatively affecting the National Airspace System, and the shutdown nearly certainly will make a bad situation worse, ' National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi said in a statement. "Security effectiveness will not be compromised". Gregory said that on Thursday, 2.2 million passengers passed through TSA checkpoints and 99.8 percent of them waited less than 30 minutes. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY said the president told them Friday he's prepared for the shutdown to last months or years.More news: Trump offers Congressional leaders meeting as shutdown grinds on
President Donald Trump has said most federal employees losing out on wages were Democrats. @spoxdhs & @realdonaldtrump may not like the truth but that won't stop us from reporting.
About 51,000 TSA employees who screen passengers are considered essential. Reports say the impasse could possibly last weeks to years.
The big question is "How are they filling the void?" said one of the veteran TSA officials, voicing concern about the impact on security.
If you have a flight to the U.S. coming up, you might want to give yourself a little extra time at the airport.More news: Bolton Says U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Syria Rests on Accomplishing 'Objectives'