The House adopted an amendment to the Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act to allow TSA employees to voluntarily wear protective equipment during a public health emergency.
The House passed the amendment by voice vote Thursday during floor debate on the bill, HR 2200. The House later passed the bill 397-25.
The amendment, offered by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., would allow workers to wear surgical and N95 masks and gloves and use hand sanitizer during an emergency. The amendment was spurred by departmental reactions to the recent H1N1 flu outbreak.
Unions pushed the Homeland Security Department to allow TSA and Customs and Border Protection employees to wear masks and gloves and use hand sanitizers during this spring’s swine flu outbreak.
Anecdotal stories showed some employees were told to take off masks and gloves when the outbreak started in mid-April; DHS issued guidance allowing employees to wear masks at the end of April.
No vote has been scheduled yet in the Senate on HR 2200.