Washington (February 13, 2019) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today introduced legislation to bolster funding for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and its workforce, ensuring that the agency has the necessary funds and resources to secure America’s air travelers and pay its dedicated Transportation Security Officers (TSO). The Funding for Aviation Screeners and Threat Elimination Restoration (FASTER) Act would eliminate this diversion, ensure that passenger security fees go solely towards aviation security, and prevent Congress from raiding the funds in the future. The legislation would also give TSA access to September 11 Security Fee revenue during a lapse in appropriations, giving TSA much-needed flexibility to pay TSOs in the event of a future shutdown.
In 2013, Congress began diverting one-third of the revenue collected from airline passenger security fees to pay for unrelated government spending. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, $1.36 billion will be diverted away from aviation security. More than $19 billion in total will be diverted by FY 2027 unless current law is changed.
“As 9/11 made all too clear, transportation security is not optional but absolutely essential for protecting our loved ones in the skies and on the ground,” said Senator Markey. “For the TSA to carry out its mission, it needs ample resources to protect the nation’s transportation system. That’s why I’m proud to co-lead this legislative effort to help ensure that the September 11 Security Fee goes to its intended use – improving security at our airports and in the skies.”
“The recent government shutdown underscored the importance of a strong TSA and well-funded aviation infrastructure,” said Senator Blumenthal. “The American people rightly expect the September 11th Security Fee be used for its intended purpose: to support the TSA and aviation security measures we all rely on to keep our families and skies safe. This bill will prevent these funds from being raided for other uses, bolstering TSA’s ability to keep the traveling public safe, reducing congestion at our nation’s airports, and securing funding for the salaries of TSA agents—even during a shutdown.”
A copy of the legislation 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) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“A stable, well-funded TSA is a critical component of our nation’s security,” said Chairman DeFazio. “The FASTER Act will ensure that TSA gets the full funding that it needs—funding that is already paid by consumers—to invest in state-of-the equipment and hire additional staff in order to make air travel not only safer, but more efficient. In an era where government shutdowns are becoming more of the norm rather than the exception, TSA needs the ability to provide some financial stability to its hard-working TSOs, who are amongst the lowest-paid federal employees.”
“It defies common sense that a big chunk of air passenger security fees are not going towards aviation security and the functions of the Transportation Security Administration,” said Chairman Thompson. “Alarmingly, billions have been diverted from TSA in recent years towards other purposes. This became even more apparent during the previous Trump shutdown when TSA was one of the impacted government agencies. This bill we are introducing again will allow TSA to retain the fees it collects so it can properly staff airports around the country, operate as efficiently as possible, and effectively secure the American public.”
“Since coming to Congress, I’ve raised serious concerns about the need to improve our aviation security,” said Rep. Katko. “The FASTER Act achieves this goal by redirecting revenues accumulated by security fees and allows TSA to invest in a more robust airport security infrastructure. Ensuring the TSA is fully-staffed and has access to quality resources is essential to our national security, and I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this legislation that improves TSA preparedness.”