H.R. 2200: Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act

H.R. 2200

Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act

Sponsor
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee

Date
June 4, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 2200 will be considered under a structured rule. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) on April 30, 2009.

Bill Summary

H.R. 2200 authorizes $7.6 billion for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in Fiscal Year 2010 and $8.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2011.  The bill also includes policy changes related to cargo and passenger screening, flight crew training, and surface transportation inspectors.  The following are the highlights:

Aviation Security:  H.R. 2200 extends TSA's deadline to establish a system to verify screening of all air cargo on in-bound foreign passenger flights by two years and addresses redundant inspections by multiple agencies of cargo on in-bound passenger aircraft.  The bill also prohibits employees or contractors of TSA, DHS, GAO, or other federal agencies from "tipping off"-providing notice-of information concerning a covert test or evaluation of transportation security. The bill also establishes a TSA training program for transportation security officers to update them on new screening procedures and technologies.

H.R. 2200 requires TSA to develop a biometric verification system to verify the identity and status of law enforcement officers flying while armed and authorizes up to $10 million for this system.  The legislation establishes an Ombudsman for the Federal Air Marshal Service to review and implement recommendations by GAO to improve morale, training, and quality of life of these Marshals.

The bill authorizes $10 million for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 for a grant program for measures to improve security at general aviation airports.  TSA would be required to develop a risk-based plan that identifies best practices for airport perimeter access controls at commercial service and general aviation airports.

Biometrics:  The bill requires the Secretary to carry out a demonstration program to evaluate biometric identifier access systems for individuals with access to secure areas of an airport.  $20 million is authorized to carry out this program in Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011.

Canines:  H.R. 2200 increases the number of explosives detection canine teams devoted to surface transportation to 200 by the end of 2011. The bill authorizes $75,000 for each canine team deployed to transportation agencies eligible for assistance.  H.R. 2200 also extends the authorization of this program.  Additionally, the bill provides that not less than 250 canine teams be used for aviation security through 2011, though currently there are 549 canine teams dedicated to aviation-related screening.

Prohibition on Outsourcing: The bill prohibits the TSA from outsourcing the terrorist watch list, "no fly" list, and selectee list verifications to non-governmental entities.

Surface Transportation Security:  H.R. 2200 establishes a Surface Transportation Security Inspection Office to oversee surface transportation security officers and increases the number of these inspectors by 300 over two years.

Demonstration Projects:  The bill requires TSA to conduct emonstration projects to test and assess technologies for securing underwater tunnels and passenger rail systems from a terrorist attack involving improvised explosive devices.

SAFE Truckers:  The bill allows less-stringent background checks for truck drivers who do not carry security sensitive materials. Currently, truck drivers who do not carry these dangerous materials may be disqualified from jobs because they are subject to the same checks as drivers who transport "hazardous materials" which include soft drink syrups and paint.

Background

This legislation was reported by the Committee on Homeland Security by a vote of 22-0 on May 14, 2009. Although the bill was reported favorably, one Republican voted "present" and several GOP Members voiced concerns about moving forward before the Senate confirms an Assistant Secretary for TSA. It should also be noted that neither the TSA nor the Department of Homeland Security participated in the negotiation of the legislation, and the Administration has requested that the House delay consideration of the bill.

The Transportation Security Administration was created following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. The agency has never been subject to an authorization bill. The authorization contained in H.R. 2200 is $65 million over the President's budget request for Fiscal Year 2010, and the 2011 authorization levels represent a 6 percent increase over 2010.

 

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 2200 would increase net discretionary spending by $3 billion in 2010 and $11.4 billion over five years, assuming appropriation of authorized amounts.

Amendments

1)    Rep. Thompson (D-MS):  Clarifies which aviation facilities qualify for general aviation security grants, including helicopter operators and heliports.  Establishes a plan and implements a program for screening air passengers with metal implants, studies the creation of new transportation security positions at TSA, and requires a GAO review of other transportation security functions at TSA.

2)    Reps. Mica (R-FL), Ehlers (R-MI), Graves (R-MO), and Petri (R-WI):  Alters the standard for when TSA can issue an emergency regulation or security device without adhering to the rule making and public notice and comment provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act.  Allows TSA to issue a regulation or security directive when needed "to respond to an imminent threat of finite duration" and requires TSA to comply with the rule making requirements of the Act when a security directive or emergency order has been in place for more than 180 days.

3)    Rep. Mica (R-FL):  Requires the Assistant Secretary to establish a "known air traveler credential" that incorporates biometric identifier technology.

4)    Reps. Bachus (R-AL) and Moore (D-KS):  Directs TSA to develop and implement an expedited security screening program for members of the Armed Forces traveling on official orders while in uniform through commercial airports.  Additionally, family members would be eligible to accompany the servicemembers through the expedited screening process onto the concourse.

5)    Rep. Hastings (D-FL):  Requires TSA, within 6 months of enactment, to submit a report to Congress on complaints and claims received by the TSA for loss of property with respect to passenger baggage screened by the TSA.

6)    Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL):  Reimburses airports for eligible costs incurred before August 3, 2007, that were previously reimbursed at 90% of such costs. The Secretary would reimburse such airports an amount equal to the difference for such eligible costs.

7)    Rep. Castor (D-FL):  Direct the Secretary to prohibit states from requiring separate security background checks for transportation security cards, and waives application of the prohibition if a compelling homeland security reason necessitates a separate background check.

8)    Rep. Flake (R-AZ):  Prevents earmarking in a new grant program established in the bill, and would clarify that Congress presumes that grants awarded through that program will be awarded on a risk-based competitive basis, and if they are not, require the Assistant Secretary to submit a report to Congress explaining the reason.

9)    Rep. Lynch (D-MA):  Provides that any TSA personnel voluntarily may wear personal protective equipment (including surgical and N95 masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer) during any public health emergency.

10)  Reps. Chaffetz (R-UT) and Shea-Porter (D-NH):  Prohibits the TSA from using Whole Body-Imaging (WBI) machines for primary screening at airports, and requires the TSA to give passengers the option of a pat-down search in place of going through a WBI machine, information on the images generated by the WBI, the privacy policies in place, and the right to request a pat-down search, and would prohibit the TSA from storing, transferring, or copying the images.

11)  Del. Bordallo (D-Guam):  Directs the Secretary to report to Congress on a review to be conducted by the TSA for preferred and alternative methods of having the airports in territories comply with TSA security regulations.  The report would also address the cost differences and financing opportunities for such airports to fully comply with the TSA regulations.

12)  Reps. Hastings (R-WA) and Rogers (R-AL):  Requires TSA to increase the number of canine detection teams used for air cargo screening by a minimum of 100 from the date enactment.

13)  Rep. Butterfield (D-NC):  Requires a study on the use of the combination of facial and iris recognition to rapidly identify individuals in security checkpoint lines.  The study would focus on increased accuracy of facial and iris recognition and the possibility of using this advanced technology broadly for accurate identification of individuals.

14)  Rep. Roskam (R-IL):  Requires the Secretary to collect public comments from transit agencies to determine the extent to which current allowable uses of grant funds under the Transit Security Grant Program are sufficient to address security improvement priorities identified by transit agencies. Where security improvement priorities identified by local transit agencies are not met by the regulations implementing the grant program, the Secretary will report to Congress on how such regulations should be changed to accommodate them or why these are not appropriate priorities.

Additional Information

Members may be concerned about several provisions in the bill:

Guantanamo Bay Detainees:  At mark-up, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) offered an amendment which would have placed any detainee housed at Guantanamo Bay on or after January 1, 2009, on the "no fly" list.  The Majority softened the language considerably and the bill now contains language which allows the President to determine which Guantanamo Bay detainees are placed on TSA's "no fly" list; this is no different from the current practice.

Self-Defense Training:  The bill requires that all 96,700 flight attendants in the United States be provided with at least five hours of advanced self-defense training every two years.  Flight attendants currently have the option of taking a free eight-hour course each year.

Air Cargo Screening:  The bill gives the Department of Homeland Security two years after enactment to screen 100 percent of inbound air cargo carried on passenger aircraft.  This is a veiled extension of DHS' looming August 3, 2010 deadline for such screening.

Tripling of Surface Transportation Security Funding:  This legislation would triple the amount of funding available to TSA for surface transportation security ($193 billion) as compared to current law ($63 million).  The President's budget proposed to double TSA's funding for surface transportation between Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010, but this legislation adds another $65 million over his request.