H.R. 4698, Securing Aviation from Foreign Entry Points and Guarding Airports Through Enhanced Security Act of 2016, as amended

H.R. 4698

Securing Aviation from Foreign Entry Points and Guarding Airports Through Enhanced Security Act of 2016, as amended

Sponsor
Rep. John Katko

Date
April 26, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4698, the Securing Aviation from Foreign Entry Points and Guarding Airports Through Enhanced Security Act of 2016, as amended, under suspension of the rules. This bill was introduced on March 3, 2016 by Rep. John Katko (R-NY) and was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote, on March 23, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4698 directs the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to conduct a comprehensive security risk assessment of all last point of departure airports with nonstop flights to the United States. The risk assessment shall include the level of coordination between TSA and the foreign government, the intelligence and threat mitigation capabilities of the country where the airport is located, the number of known or suspected terrorists annually transiting through such airport, the passenger security practices, capabilities, and capacities at such airport, the security vetting undergone by aviation workers at the airport, and the access controls utilized by the airport to limit access to secure areas to authorized personnel only.

This bill also authorizes TSA to donate security equipment to foreign airports with flights bound to the United States, as long as that equipment can be expected to mitigate security risks at the airport. The Administrator is also directed to submit to Congress and the Comptroller General of the United States a plan to enhance the security collaboration, coordination, and information sharing between the United States and domestic and foreign partners related to securing international-inbound aviation.

In addition, H.R. 4698 includes a provision that recently passed the Senate regarding airport security in the FAA bill. This provision directs the TSA Administrator to request that the Aviation Security Advisory Committee make recommendations pertaining to improving passenger screening and the passenger experience, which shall include consideration of checkpoint configuration, technology innovation, security vulnerabilities and breaches, and recommendations from stakeholders. The Administrator is directed to submit a one-time report to Congress on the ASAC’s recommendations no later than 1 year after enactment.   There was also an addition to section 2(b)(7) to have the assessments take into account the extent to which foreign governments collect, analyze, and share passenger name record data.

Finally, H.R. 4698 gives the TSA Administrator the authority to evaluate the security of any foreign country’s air cargo program to determine if the program security requirements are in line with U.S. requirements.

Background

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created “to strengthen the security of the nation’s transportation systems and ensure the freedom of movement for people and commerce.”[1]

The Committee examined several high profile breaches at airports nationwide where guns and illegal drug trafficking schemes were exposed. These incidents highlighted the need to improve airport access controls and employee vetting throughout the United States. In addition, Metrojet Flight 9268 was brought down in October of 2015 by a bomb inside the cabin of the aircraft while flying from Egypt to Russia.  This event further uncovered additional airport vulnerabilities from insider threats overseas. [2]

According to the bill sponsor, “In order to keep our country safe, we must ensure that individuals traveling from last point of departure airports are held to the same scrutiny as individuals within our country. [This bill] is a result of tremendous bipartisan efforts on the House Homeland Security Committee to improve airport access controls and employee vetting both throughout the United States and at foreign airports that have direct flights to the United States.”[3]

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[1] See https://www.tsa.gov/about.
[2] See Rep. John Katko’s Press Release, “To Address Insider Threats Overseas, Katko Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Secure Foreign Points of Entry”. March 16, 2016
[3] Id.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that many of the requirements of H.R. 4698 are consistent with Department policy, and enacting this legislation would result in less than $500,000 of increased spending annually. H.R. 4698 would not affect direct spending or revenues, therefore pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.