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November 08, 2017

Thompson, Watson Coleman, Keating Agree with TSA Administrator: Agency Needs More Resources

(WASHINGTON) – Today, during his first appearance before the House Committee on Homeland Security, David Pekoske, the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, signaled that TSA needs more resources to effectively secure our aviation sector. For example, President Trump’s budget request included a reduction for TSA funding for FY 2018. It also did not include funding for next generation screening technology, which has been adopted in other countries. Under current law, approximately $1.28 billion from airline ticket security fees is routed from TSA towards the budget deficit every year.  Administrator Pekoske said today that routing these funds back to TSA would “go a long way” and said that “additional investment” would make our travel safer.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement:

“After hearing from the TSA Administrator today, it is clear that TSA needs more resources to do its job properly.  The American people need to know that while we demand stringent security standards, TSA lags behind in adopting new technologies – such as computed tomography scanning – that have been adopted in other countries.   The American people also need to know that because of a 2013 law, over a billion dollars of the security fees they pay each year is diverted from TSA.  This money could be used to invest in new security technology and a fully staffed and effectively trained workforce that could put TSA on a stronger footing to prevent the next attack. Instead this Republican Administration and Republican Congress want to spend billions on an unnecessary border wall and over a trillion on tax cuts for corporations and the rich.”

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Committee’s Transportation and Protective Security Subcommittee, added the following:

“We should not be surprised by performance issues at TSA when Congress continues to divert passenger security fees for other purposes.  Having recently visited airports in Europe, I have seen the benefits that come from investing in airport security technology, but as Administrator Pekoske explained today, TSA needs additional resources for it to use computed tomography scanners nationally. If Congress does not act promptly to address underfunding at TSA, we will continue to leave ourselves unnecessarily vulnerable to constantly evolving threats.”

Rep. William R. Keating (D-MA), Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, added:

“Known technology already in operation in other countries, which the TSA Administrator admitted would keep Americans safer at home, are not in use here because of inadequate funding.  Other existing security teams – including canine units that the Administrator said make us safer – are cut.  Yet, $1.28 billion, 1/3 of the passenger surcharges meant to fund aviation security, are being diverted; $15 billion for a border wall is prioritized; and the Trump Administration has proposed cutting the TSA budget nearly $200 million.  This morning, all attending acknowledged a present danger – one that could be alleviated, yet one that remains unaddressed.”

Reps. Thompson and Watson Coleman are original co-sponsors of H.R. 2514, legislation that would repeal the provision in the 2013 law that diverts the approximately $1.28 billion annually from TSA.

To watch the hearing and comments from the members on this issue, see video link here.

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Media contacts:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978
(Watson Coleman) Kirsten Allen at (202) 225-5801
(Keating) Lauren McDermott at (202) 225-3111