Tester, Hirono, Moran, Daines introduce bill to extend employment protections to FAA, TSA veteran employees

(U.S. Senate) – Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) introduced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Veterans’ Preference Protection Act to extend equitable federal employment rights to veterans. The bill would close a loophole in current law that leaves over 27,000 veterans employed by the FAA and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) without the same legal mechanisms available to their counterparts in other federal agencies to address violations of their veterans’ preference rights in the hiring, selection, and promotion process.

“After putting their lives on the line in the military, many veterans continue to protect our nation by working hard to keep our infrastructure safe,” said Senator Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “This bipartisan bill closes a loophole that has left 116 veterans in Montana without employment rights that they have earned. These brave men and women should be afforded every protection when it comes to civilian employment after serving our country.”

“In Hawaii, we are proud to have 300 veterans who have selected to continue to serve our country by filling critical roles in the FAA and TSA that help to keep our national airspace and the traveling public safe,” said Senator Hirono. “We owe it to them and all our nation’s veterans to fix this unacceptable loophole so that the federal employment preference rights they have earned with their service can be adequately enforced and defended.”

“Too many bureaucratic hurdles continue to stand in the way of veterans finding quality jobs following their time spent serving our country,” said Senator Moran. “Many of our veterans are uniquely qualified for roles at the FAA and TSA – this bill would support our nation’s heroes by making certain their federal employment rights match those of private citizens.”

“The heroes who fought for us don’t deserve to be stripped of benefits that they rightfully deserve. By closing this loophole it will level the playing field for those veterans who work for the FAA and TSA,” said Senator Daines.

A similar bill was introduced by former Senator Daniel K. Akaka in response to the 2010 Morse v. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) federal court decision, which dismissed the case due to the fact that although FAA and TSA must apply veterans preference in hiring, veterans who apply for jobs at the FAA and TSA are not entitled to the appeal rights that apply in other agencies. Mr. Morse’s petition alleged that the TSA violated his veterans’ preference rights when it declined to waive its maximum entry age requirement in connection with his application for employment as a Federal Air Marshal. A number of additional court cases brought by veteran plaintiffs have been dismissed due to the same issue.

The FAA Veterans’ Preference Protection Act closes the loophole by applying the following legal provisions to the FAA and the TSA:

  • Administrative redress, judicial redress, and remedial provisions for alleged veterans’ preference violations.
  • Provisions that allow veterans to compete for vacancies under merit promotion when an agency accepts applications from individuals outside its own workforce.
  • Hiring preferences for military spouses, spouses of disabled veterans and survivors of veterans.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) applauded the introduction of the FAA Veterans’ Preference Protection Act.

“This proposed legislation will close unintended loopholes within the FAA that had negatively affected veterans for years,” said Carlos Fuentes, Legislative Director of VFW. “The VFW supports this important bill, which would grant veterans within the FAA the same employment benefits as veterans within other government agencies.”

The bill is also supported by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, American Bar Association, Federal Managers Association, and the FAA Managers Association.