Lawmakers’ bill would ensure that passenger security fees go solely towards security
Washington (September 9, 2021) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today announced reintroduction of legislation to bolster funding for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and its workforce, ensuring that the agency has the necessary resources to protect America’s air travelers, pay its dedicated Transportation Security Officers (TSOs), and invest in twenty-first century security technology.
The Funding for Aviation Screeners and Threat Elimination Restoration (FASTER) Act would specifically end the diversion of the 9/11 Security Fee, which is a $5.60 fee that every traveler pays when they buy a plane ticket and is meant to help finance the cost of protecting our nation’s aviation system. In 2013, Congress began diverting one-third of the revenue generated by this security fee to pay for unrelated programs. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 – the last full year before air travel was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic – more than $4.25 billion was collected in security fees, but $1.36 billion was diverted away from aviation security. Unless current law is changed, more than $19 billion in total will be diverted by FY 2027. The FASTER Act would eliminate this diversion, redirect billions of dollars back to the TSA, and prevent Congress from raiding these funds in the future.
“Twenty years after 9/11, the effort to keep our skies safe and secure is as important as it has ever been,” said Senator Markey. “In light of evolving threats, the TSA needs ample resources to fulfill its mission, support its workforce, and deploy the latest and greatest security technologies. We must also ensure that the money passengers pay for their own security is actually used to protect the flying public. That’s why I am proud to reintroduce this legislation with Senator Blumenthal, which will help ensure that ‘Never Again’ is not just a slogan, but a true commitment to action.”
“This legislation reaffirms our country’s commitment to aviation security as we honor the 20th anniversary of the devastating 9/11 attacks. Consumers rightly expect the September 11th Security Fee be used for its intended purpose: to prevent future threats and maintain safety in our skies,” said Senator Blumenthal. “The FASTER Act will put an end to the diversion of this vital funding and restore critical investments in the TSA’s workforce and cutting-edge technology.”
A copy of the FASTER Act can be found HERE.
House Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security Bennie Thompson (MS-02), and Congressman John Katko (NY-24) previously introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
The FASTER Act has been endorsed by Airlines for America, Air Line Pilots Association, Airports Council International-North America, American Association of Airport Executives, American Federation of Government Employees, American Society of Travel Advisors, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Global Business Travel Association, and U.S. Travel Association.
“You get what you pay for . . . unless it’s the airline security fee that accompanies your ticket,”said Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.“That money is directed to all kinds of other priorities while aviation security remains subject to government shutdowns. Enough! We applaud Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) for introducing the FASTER Act that would end the diversion of the 9/11 security fee and ensure TSA is funded through any lapse in appropriations. September 11th changed aviation security forever and Congress established the 9/11 Security Fee to ensure aviation security would always be funded. We urge Congress to pass the FASTER Act without delay.”
“The security fees that airline passengers pay should and must be spent on aviation security and not diverted for other uses,” said Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. “It is imperative that TSA fees – paid by the traveling public – are used for their intended purpose. This legislation would make certain of that.”
“Security at Logan Airport is multi-layered and uses an intelligence-based approach, capitalizing on partnerships, and information sharing with the entire airport-wide community. It is essential that our partners at the TSA are funded appropriately with the latest training, equipment and technologies to help us in our mission to protect the airport, our passengers and employees each and every day,” said Hank Shaw, Massport Chief Security Officer.
“AFGE is proud to endorse the Funding for Aviation Screeners and Threat Elimination Restoration Act and thanks Senators Markey and Blumenthal for introducing the FASTER Act in the Senate,” said Everett Kelley, National President, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO. “As we mark two decades since the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil compelled the creation of the Transportation Security Administration, Americans deserve to be assured that the aviation security fee they pay each time they fly is dedicated to aviation security. These resources are necessary to keep the flying public safe and continue to hire and train a professional workforce of Transportation Security Officers. AFGE is especially supportive of the legislation’s provision to ensure funds are available to keep TSOs on the job in the event of a future government shutdown. The safety of air passengers is of the utmost importance, and we must use our resources accordingly.”
“It is well past time to fully restore the 9/11 Passenger Security Fee to its intended purpose of paying the cost of TSA to screen passengers and their baggage,” said Airports Council International-North American President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “For nearly a decade, billions have been taken from TSA’s core screening mission to subsidize other federal programs, delaying the deployment of new technology, the maintenance of systems, and the addition of new officers to TSA security checkpoints. Our aviation passengers deserve better. As airports continue to see a growing number of travelers at their facilities, we greatly appreciate the leadership of Sen. Markey and Sen. Blumenthal to ensure passengers are getting their money’s worth from their 9/11 Passenger Security Fee when they purchase an airplane ticket.”
“In the two decades that have passed since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, ensuring aviation security continues to be a critical layer in our industry’s continued success. Aviation’s future will always depend on enhanced security measures which is why it is imperative that TSA have the resources needed to keep air travel safe and efficient,” said Capt. Joe DePete, President of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA). “ALPA commends Senators Markey and Blumenthal for their leadership in ensuring that the established 9/11 security fee goes solely towards aviation security as it was intended. We urge Congress to swiftly pass this important piece of legislation so that we can continue the common purpose of keeping our skies safe and secure.”
“With travelers returning to the skies, Congress needs to end the security fee shell game and redirect scarce resources to staffing, technology, and other critical security needs,” said Todd Hauptli, President and CEO of the American Association of Airport Executives. “We appreciate Senator Markey and Senator Blumenthal’s leadership in doing just that.”
“As air travel recovers from the pandemic, lines are growing longer at security checkpoints at the nation’s airports creating delays for business and leisure travelers,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO of the Global Business Travel Association. “The 9/11 security fee was created to fund the essential technology, equipment, and TSA staffing that maintain those checkpoints, but over the years it has been diverted for other purposes to the detriment of travelers. We salute Senator Markey, Senator Blumenthal, and the effort to end the practice of fee diversion, so that security fees are used to pay for security.”