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"Aviation Security Agreement"



November 15, 2001

Aviation Security Agreement
AAAE/ACI-NA


After weeks of negotiations, House and Senate leaders finally reached an
agreement on aviation security legislation. The two sides reached an
agreement on the screener issue this morning, and we expect the House
and Senate to pass the conference report tomorrow. A press release on
the agreement issued by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the Chairman of the House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, may be viewed at:
http://www.house.gov/transportation/.

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to consider the legislation at
7:00 a.m. tomorrow, so the House will likely consider the bill sometime
later in the morning. The Senate will convene tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.,
and we expect it will pass the aviation security bill by unanimous
consent later in the day. Although Members of Congress and their staffs
are still working out the final details, the following describes our
current understanding of some of the main provisions in the bill. This
is subjection to change, and we will provide clarification -- and
potentially corrections -- as more information becomes available in the
next 12 - 14 hours. In the mentime, a copy of a side-by-side comparing
the House, Senate and final versions of the bill can be viewed at
http://www.airportnet.org/depts/federal/leigha/securitybills.pdf for
your review.

Security Screeners

House and Senate-Passed Bills: By a vote of 100-0, the Senate approved
an aviation security bill that would have allowed the Department of
Justice to oversee the screening of passengers. Under the Senate
proposal, DOJ employees would have provided screening at 142 largest
airports and allowed non-hub airports to use local or state law
enforcement officials thereby creating two levels of security. 

Not surprisingly, the House of Representatives had their own ideas on
who should screen passengers. Spurred on by Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX), the
House Majority Whip, and Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX) the House Majority
Leader, who did not want to create 28,000 federal jobs, the House passed
an aviation security bill that would have given the President the option
of using private contractors to screen passengers. The House passed the
proposal after defeating a proposal similar to the Senate bill by a vote
of 214-218.

Conference: The conference report calls for all screeners to be federal
employees and for the Department of Transportation to oversee the
screening process. Specifically, it calls for a one-year transition to
federal screeners. Two years after the transition period, all airports
will have the option to opt-out of using federal screeners and use
private contractors instead. While we have yet to see the details, it
appears as if the airport will have the option of requesting the federal
government to contract out the screening or take over the screening
itself. But again, these are options. Five airports -- one by each risk
category -- will also be able to participate in a pilot program where
they can use private contractors instead of federal employees to screen
passengers. 

These new screeners will be paid for -- in part -- by a $2.50 fee
imposed on passengers for each flight segment with no more than $5.00
per one-way trip. 

Funding for Airport Security Expenses

House- and Senate-Passed Bills: After the terrorist attacks on September
11, airports were immediately required to deploy dramatically more law
enforcement officials and take other steps to improve aviation security.
We estimate that the new security requirements will cost airports
approximately $1 billion per year. For the past several weeks, we have
been encouraging Congress to reimburse airports for the costs associated
with additional security mandates.

Although both bills authorized funds to reimburse airports for their new
security requirements, neither the House nor the Senate version of the
aviation security bill included the necessary appropriation. The House
bill, for instance, would have authorized up to $1.5 billion to
reimburse airports for their new security costs, and the Senate bill
would have authored such sums as necessary. In addition, the House bill
conditioned receipt of any of these funds on the airport meeting with
its tenants to discuss possible rent adjustments. 

Conference: Like the House bill, the conference report authorizes $1.5
billion to reimburse airports for their security costs. The
authorization is made available for FY02 and FY03. The vendor language
was dropped in favor of "Sense of Congress" language that "encourages"
airports to meet with tenants. It also "encourages" airlines to meet
with airports. We continue to urge Congress to appropriate much-need
funds for new airport security requirement in the Fiscal Year 2002
Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations bill or the economic stimulus
bill. One of the two bills will likely be a legislative vehicle for
proposals to increase homeland security. 

AIP/PFC Flexibility

House- and Senate-Passed Bills: Both the House and Senate versions of
the aviation security bills included provisions that would have given
airports flexibility for using AIP and PFC funds to pay for
security-related expenses such as deploying more law enforcement
officials. While the Senate version of the bill called for AIP and PFC
flexibility for all airports in Fiscal Year 2002, the House bill would
have given only non-hub and small-hub airports permanent flexibility. 

Conference: We argued that all airports should have AIP and PFC
flexibility, and we suggested that airports should have that flexibility
only temporarily. The final version of the bill includes the best
AIP/PFC provisions of each bill. It gives all airports flexibility to
use AIP and PFC funds to pay for security-related expenses, and it
provides that flexibility in FY02 only. We're pleased that the
conference report -- like the House version of the bill -- will also
allow airports in some cases to use AIP and PFC funds in for debt
service and allow non-primary airports affected by the closure of Class
B airspace to use AIP funds for operational activities in FY02.

300-foot Rule

House- and Senate-Passed Bills: Both bills included provisions related
the FAA's 300-foot rule. The Senate version of the bill would have given
the FAA the authority to decide whether to lift the 300-foot rule at
"small community airports." It would have required the FAA to consult
with state or local law enforcement authorities to reexamine the safety
requirements for small community airports including the parking of
passenger vehicles within 300 feet of the airport terminal building. 

The House version of the aviation security bill included a provision
that would have allowed airport operators -- not the FAA -- to decide
whether the 300- foot rule is necessary at all airports. It would have
allowed airports operators to consult with state or local law
enforcement authorities to conduct a threat assessment of the airport to
determine whether vehicles should be permitted to park within 300 feet
of a terminal. If the airport operator determined that sufficient
safeguards are in place and so certified in writing to the Secretary of
Transportation, the 300-foot rule shall not apply to that specific
airport. 

Conference: The conference report will allow airport operators to
consult with state or local law enforcement authorities to conduct a
threat assessment of the airport to determine whether vehicles should be
permitted to park within 300 feet of a terminal. If the airport operator
determines that sufficient safeguards are in place and so certifies in
writing to DOT, the department would have a certain amount of time to
decide whether it is necessary for the airport continue complying with
the 300-foot rule. The Secretary will have 15 days to respond to
non-hubs, 30 days to small hubs, 60 days to medium hubs, and 120 days to
large hubs. If DOT does not explain why the 300-foot rule is necessary
at a specific airport within that time, the requirement at that airport
will expire.

   Post your comments in the CAA Legislative Forum
http://www.californiaaviation.org/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi?conf=DCConfID5

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