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Mr. HONDA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my concern about the proposal in the President's budget request, which is included in this bill, to shift the responsibility for exit lane staffing from TSA to airport operators across this country.
Since November 2001, TSA has assumed responsibility for staffing exit lanes under the authority of Aviation and Transportation Security Act. Citing budget constraints, in the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Request, TSA has sought to shift the responsibility and costs for exit lane staffing to airport operators.
This move raises a number of concerns ably described by the Committee in the report accompanying this bill. Particularly troubling is TSA's intention to continue to collect money for performing this function through the Aviation Security Infrastructure Fee while passing the buck along to airports.
Like many of my colleagues, I have heard from my local airport--Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport--about the devastating impact this unfunded mandate would have on airport operators. Mineta airport is already paying $200,000 per year to staff one exit lane because TSA decided it was not ``co-located'' with the checkpoint screening area, and it cannot absorb the additional costs for more exit lane staffing--over the last few years, the airport has already reduced staff by more than 50 percent due to budget constraints.
At the end my statement is the text of a letter I received from the City of San Jose, CA's director of aviation on behalf of Mineta San Jose Airport outlining these concerns in greater detail.
Chairman Carter and Ranking Member Price, I know that you were faced with a challenging task, working within the allocation given and trying to fill holes left by the budget request. And I know from the language you included in the report that you regret being unable to fill this hole in the budget.
I thank you for including language in the report directing TSA to work with airport operators to assess the impact of this change and consider delaying or at least phasing in this shift of responsibility until TSA can certify effective technology solutions that would reduce the cost for airport operators.
I hope that as we move this bill to the Senate and into conference, we will have a more favorable allocation to work with that will allow us to reject this ill-conceived proposal and protect already strapped airports from an unfunded mandate to perform duties that they have never had the responsibility for and which TSA is receiving fees to carry out.
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