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"Second meeting of the House/Senate Aviation Security Conferees"

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Second meeting of the House/Senate Aviation Security Conferees - VIDEO

The second meeting of the House and Senate Aviation Security Conferees just
ended. Though staff had worked throughout the weekend and was able to reach
agreement on many items in the two proposals, lawmakers continued to be
sharply divided on the issue of federalizing airport screeners. Most
lawmakers called for finishing work on the aviation security bill by the end
of the week, but there was no evidence from their opening statements that
anyone had softened their position on airport screeners.

In an effort to start debate on the screener issue, Senator Kay Bailey
Hutchison (R-TX) offered a compromise that would keep authority for airport
screeners within the Department of Transportation but would create a
two-tiered security system for large and small airports. Specifically,
Hutchison's proposal would require:

   *all airports with more than 7.5 million enplanements during calander
year 2000 would use federal screeners exclusively (top 31 busiest airports
with nearly 500 million enplanements)

   *the Secretary could select, with the consent of the airport authority,
one airport with more than 7.5 million enplanements for a pilot program for
private screening services performed under federal supervision

   *the remaining primary airports would have flexibility to use private
employees or federal employees though any airport authority could request
federal screeners and DOT would have to give such a request "great weight"

   *any airport authority other than the top 31 could choose to utilize
state or local law enforcement officers to perform screening services

   *at hub airports a federal supervisor must be present at each screening

   *at non-hub airports either a federal supervisor or a trained law
enforcement officer could supervise and

   *connecting passengers and their carry-on baggage must be screened at the
hub at which they make their connections.

Hutchison said her proposal was a starting point for debate though it does
not seem to be gaining any significant support.

On airport issues, we appear to be making good progress. There has been a
snag however on the provision in the House bill that would require airports
to meet with vendors as a condition of receiving any federal money for
reimbursement of security related expenses. Although the House Republicans
are insisting only that airports meet with their tenants to discuss these
issue and do not presuppose an outcome of these discussions, we remain
adamantly opposed to this provision. House Republican Conferees, however,
have to this point insisted on its inclusion in the conference report. The
Senate is opposed to including this language. Until they are able to work
this issue out they have set aside a number of airport related provisions.
We'll get back to you as soon as we have more details on how this discussion

Conferees are scheduled to meet tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. Video clips from today
's meeting are also available on the AAAE/ACI-NA Joint Legislative website
at http://www.airportnet.org/depts/federal/press/video.htm.

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