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"Lawmaker targets TSA's big chunk of change"
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Lawmaker targets TSA's big chunk of change
Travelers left $376,480.39 in loose change in the bottoms of plastic bins at
airport security checkpoints in the 2010 fiscal year, according to the
Transportation Security Administration.
By Harriet Baskas
Hate hidden travel fees? Then pay attention when collecting your belongings
at the airport security checkpoint.
In fiscal year 2010, travelers left $376,480.39 in loose change in the
bottoms of plastic bins at the checkpoints, according to the Transportation
Security Administration. In 2009, the abandoned coins totaled more than
"Passengers say their six pennies don't matter," said TSA spokesperson Nico
Melendez. "But it adds up."
Melendez said all the unclaimed pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters are
turned over to the TSA finance office. After being documented and counted,
the money ends up in the coffers of the TSA, which is authorized by law to
spend that money as it sees fit.
But Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) wants to change what happens to that big chunk
Miller has introduced legislation that would direct the TSA to transfer
unclaimed money recovered at airport security checkpoints to the United
Service Organizations (USO), a private nonprofit that operates centers for
the military at 41 U.S. airports.
Miller first introduced the bill in 2009, but it didn't get much traction.
Now that he's the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, he's
trying to move the bill forward again.
"The money left behind at the airport checkpoints belongs to taxpayers,"
said Miller spokesperson Dan McFaul. "The congressman feels giving it to the
USO to help with onsite airport service for active members of the military
would be a good use for it."
McFaul said the bill is currently being considered by two committees -
Homeland Security and Transportation - and that "the immediate focus is to
get a hearing and get support."
The USO, which did not initiate the campaign to redirect unclaimed
checkpoint change, is nonetheless honored by Miller's idea.
"Absolutely," said Frank Thorp, USO's senior vice president for marketing
and communications. "Any dollar amount we get from the American people goes
toward the troops and families who need us most. Our centers provide a warm
and comforting place where troops can connect with family via Internet or
telephone, play a video game, catch a movie, have a snack or just put their
feet up and relax."
As a federal agency, the TSA has no official position on the pending
legislation, but Melendez says: "If people don't want the TSA to get that
money, they can do what I do. If I have spare change in my pocket, I put it
in my briefcase so I don't leave it behind."
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