To: ACI-NA Public Safety & Security Committee
Re: Airport Alert: House Subcommittee Approves TSA Reorganization Bill
To: AAAE/ACI-NA Chief Executives and Airport Operators on E-Mail Distribution
Re: Airport Alert: House Subcommittee Passes TSA Reorganization Legislation
Bill Now Moves to Homeland Security Committee for Consideration
At a brief meeting this morning, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Cybersecurity approved H.R. 4439, the TSA Reorganization Act, sending the measure to the full House Homeland Security Committee for consideration at a yet-to-be determined future date. In a somewhat surprising development, the subcommittee opted to adopt all pending amendments by voice vote this morning, including one by Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to strip provisions in the bill aimed at expanding the Screening Partnership Program and an amendment by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) to reverse recent TSA changes to the prohibited items list.
Although it is difficult to know for certain, there was an expectation that those amendments would have failed on party-line votes had all Republican subcommittee members been in attendance this morning, and Subcommittee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-CA) made clear that those amendments would likely be re-visited when the full committee considers the bill. There is an expectation that the full committee will consider amendments to require the physical screening of all airport employees as well as we have previously noted.
In-Line EDS Installation Major Focus of House Bill
As we reported last week when the subcommittee began consideration of the legislation, in-line EDS installation is a major focus of the underlying bill with a proposed increase from $250 million to $600 million in mandatory spending for that purpose along with an additional $400 million authorization of funding for in-line installation. Additionally, before adoption of the DeFazio amendment today, the underlying bill included a proposed expansion of the airport opt-out program with the creation of a share-in-savings program to reimburse airports for deploying in-line systems.
Finally on the in-line EDS installation front, the subcommittee last week adopted a separate amendment offered by Subcommittee Chairman Lungren – which survived intact today – that would allow certain airports to impose a $1 Airport Security Charge on originating passengers for approved projects to implement in-line checked baggage screening programs. The same amendment offered by Chairman Lungren would increase the passenger security fee to $4 per one-way trip through 2012. After that time, the fee would drop to $2.50 per one-way trip. Under the Lungren amendment, the fees that individual air carriers pay to TSA to help offset the costs of TSA operations would be eliminated.
Beyond EDS installation, the bill seeks to give airports and other industry groups additional input in reviewing TSA policy through the establishment of Transportation Sector Advisory Councils. These advisory panels would provide “advice and counsel” to TSA on management, policy, spending, and regulatory matters including interim final rules.
The bill also establishes an Airport Screening Organization within TSA headed by a Chief Operating Officer. According to the bill summary, “accountability and efficiency are the two driving principles behind the establishment of the ASO. Under current practices, standard setting, policy, regulation and inspection of TSA airport screening operations are carried out by the same body within TSA that runs the screening operations. This section distinguishes between TSA's various roles and responsibilities and addresses the need to separate TSA's primary operations from its regulatory responsibilities. It formally establishes arms-length relationships between the ASO and the regulatory, certification, policy and inspections bodies within TSA to eliminate the conflict of interest inherent to regulated party acting as the regulator.” The bill also requires a study of TSA non-screener personnel along with recommendations on “which positions, if any, can be eliminated without degradation of security screening activities.”
A summary of the bill can be viewed at: http://www.aaae.org/_pdf/_govpdf/HR4439Managers3-9.pdf. Keep in mind that the DeFazio amendment adopted today stripped all provisions in the bill relating to the Screening Partnership Program (Section 201). The summary also does not reflect the inclusion of the Markey amendment on prohibited items or several others adopted by the subcommittee last week.