The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is facing criticism and concern from both politicians and the public over a diversity hiring initiative that actively recruits workers with "severe intellectual" disabilities, "psychiatric" issues and other disabilities. "All I ask is that the FAA hire individuals based on who is most qualified for the position and who will best protect our airspace, ensuring that we are all safe," Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told Fox News Digital on Monday. "That is the job of the FAA; it is not their job to be politically correct." Fox News Digital reported Sunday that the FAA’s website details a "Diversity and Inclusion" hiring plan aimed to boost diversity, including those with "severe" disabilities, at the agency. "Individuals with targeted or ‘severe’ disabilities are the most under-represented segment of the Federal workforce," the FAA’s site states before it details the "targeted disabilities" that the agency is actively working to recruit. FAA’S DIVERSITY PUSH INCLUDES FOCUS ON HIRING PEOPLE WITH ‘SEVERE INTELLECTUAL’ AND ‘PSYCHIATRIC’ DISABILITIES "Targeted disabilities are those disabilities that the Federal government, as a matter of policy, has identified for special emphasis in recruitment and hiring," the FAA’s website states. "They include hearing, vision, missing extremities, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, epilepsy, severe intellectual disability, psychiatric disability and dwarfism." ELON MUSK DINGS BOEING AFTER ALASKA AIRLINES SCARE: 'PRIORITIZED DEI HIRING' Severe intellectual disability is defined by the Cleveland Clinic as: "People with severe intellectual disability have an average mental age of between 3 and 6 years. They use single words, phrases and/or gestures to communicate. They benefit from daily care and support with activities and daily life." The FAA, which is overseen by Secretary Pete Buttigieg's Department of Transportation, is charged with regulating civil aviation and employs roughly 45,000 people. When asked for comment on the initiative, including what roles people with disabilities would fulfill, the FAA told Fox News Digital that the agency thoroughly seeks and vets qualified candidates "from as many sources as possible" for a range of positions. "The FAA employs tens of thousands of people for a wide range of positions, from administrative roles to oversight and execution of critical safety functions. Like many large employers, the agency proactively seeks qualified candidates from as many sources as possible, all of whom must meet rigorous qualifications that of course will vary by position," the FAA said. The initiative is not new, according to the FAA's site, which notes the diversity and inclusion initiative was last updated on March 23, 2022. News of the hiring initiative spread across social media sites on Sunday as critics expressed overall shock and argued that flying has become more dangerous amid the airline industry's prioritization of DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion). ALASKA AIRLINES CANCELS ALL FLIGHTS ON BOEING 737 9 MAX AIRCRAFT THROUGH JAN 13 AFTER MIDAIR DOOR BLOWOUT "Just had a conversation with some smart people could not believe this is happening," tech billionaire Elon Musk tweeted Sunday in reaction to the FAA’s DEI hiring initiative. "People with severe intellectual and psychiatric disabilities will be in charge of your air travel because of diversity quotas. DEI will get people killed," popular X account "Libs of TikTok" tweeted. "Compassion is one thing, common sense another. At 35,000 feet, I'll opt for common sense," actor James Woods tweeted. Other critics on social media lampooned the initiative, characterized it as "nuts" and called on the FAA to more thoroughly explain the hiring of people with "severe intellectual" disabilities. Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, chair of Do No Harm – a group of health care professionals, medical students and policymakers working to "protect health care from a radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideology" – told Fox News Digital on Sunday that similar to the medical field, the aviation industry has an obligation to protect its travelers. "The aviation industry has a responsibility for traveler safety just as the health care industry has a responsibility for patient safety. These responsibilities outweigh other factors when considering applicants to work in those fields. People with disabilities who can successfully complete the task should never face discrimination," said Goldfarb, a retired professor and the former associate dean for curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Unfortunately," Goldfarb said, identity politics is "creating opportunities for so-called oppressed groups by lowering standards for entry into those fields and thereby endangering the safety of those which it’s designed to serve. Some endeavors simply do not lend themselves to identity politics," he added. ‘I HIRE FOR DIVERSITY’: BIDEN JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN NOMINEE PLACED DEI AT 'FOREFRONT' AS AIR FORCE LEADER The FAA, along with Boeing and other airline industry leaders, have been under the spotlight in recent days after a door plug on a Boeing 737 Max 9 blew out during an Alaska Airlines flight on Jan. 5. The FAA grounded all 737 MAX 9 planes after the incident and is carrying out "extensive inspection" and maintenance work. Following that incident, social media commenters and public figures have argued that airlines and airline manufacturers' emphasis on DEI initiatives has made flying less safe. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP "Do you want to fly in an airplane where they prioritized DEI hiring over your safety?" Musk asked on X last week. "That is actually happening."