Today, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, joined Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security, in introducing legislation to authorize the functions and responsibilities of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013.
The Committee on Homeland Security has sole jurisdiction over all TSA security matters. The "Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act of 2011," H.R. 3011, authorizes TSA to carry out its mission of securing the nation's transportation systems from attack, while specifically aiming to streamline operations, eliminate redundancy, lower costs and promote accountability. The legislation was marked up in subcommittee print form and passed by the Subcommittee on Transportation Security last week.
Chairman King said, "We know that even 10 years after the attacks of 9/11, al-Qaeda, its affiliates and its adherents continue to target our transportation systems. Within the last two years, we have seen plots to blow up the New York City and Washington, DC subway systems, a Christmas Day attempt to blow up Northwest Flight 253 and an air cargo bomb plot involving packages shipped from Yemen. As this ongoing threat continues to evolve, TSA must adapt by targeting its resources and operating in a more intelligence-driven and risk-based manner. As demonstrated by a number of his actions recently, TSA Administrator John Pistole has begun moving in this direction. This legislation will ensure that TSA continues this common-sense shift."
Subcommittee Chairman Rogers said, "TSA is in need of fundamental reform. Since its establishment following the horrific attacks of 9/11, TSA developed a one-size-fits-all approach to security and has grown into a large bureaucracy, which has decreased its ability to adapt to the ever-evolving terror threat we face. H.R. 3011 is the first step in this process of reform, the result of which will be TSA performing its security mission more efficiently and effectively. This legislation, which mandates a top-to-bottom review of TSA, will increase security and expedite travel while ensuring the safe flow of people and commerce."
H.R. 3011 addresses all modes of transportation under TSA - passenger travel and commerce on planes, freight trains, trucks, mass transit, buses, and pipelines.
Key provisions of the legislation include:
* A risk-based program at airport checkpoints that would allow for expedited screening of trusted passengers, such as members of the military;
* Establishes parameters for the screening of children at passenger screening checkpoints, to ensure that children are not subject to a pat-down unless there is the expressed direct consent of the parent for a screening anomaly cannot be resolved by checkpoint technology;
* A comprehensive, agency-wide review of TSA to identify areas to improve efficiency and reduce costs to save taxpayer dollars, including the management of Transportation Security Officers (TSOs);
* Accountability and training requirements for TSOs;
* An air cargo advanced screening pilot program to strengthen cargo security by encouraging cargo carriers to provide shipment level data for air cargo bound for the U.S.;
* Enhanced information sharing with the private sector;
* The elimination of redundant background check requirements for truck drivers.
The Subcommittee on Transportation Security has convened two recent hearings on TSA authorization and received testimony from TSA Administrator John Pistole, as well as surface and aviation industry stakeholders.