H.R. 720, Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act of 2015

H.R. 720

Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act of 2015

Rep. John Katko

February 10, 2015 (114th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, February 10, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 720, the Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act of 2015, under a suspension of the rules.  H.R. 720 was introduced on February 4, 2015 by Rep. John Katko (R-NY) and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security.

Bill Summary

H.R. 720 is substantively identical to H.R. 4802, the Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act of 2014, legislation that previously passed in the House on July 22, 2014 by voice vote.[1]

H.R. 720 requires the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security to, in consultation with the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), conduct outreach to all U.S. airports to verify that they have working plans in place for responding to security incidents or acts of terrorism inside the perimeter of the airport.  Such plans include: 1) a strategy for evacuating and providing care to persons inside the perimeter of the airport (with consideration given to the needs of persons with disabilities); 2) a plan for establishing a unified command, including identification of staging areas for non-airport-specific law enforcement and fire response; 3) a schedule for regular testing of communications equipment used to receive emergency calls; 4) an evaluation of how emergency calls placed by persons within an airport will reach airport police in a timely manner; 5) a plan to communicate with travelers and personnel within the perimeter of the airport; 6) a projected maximum timeframe for law enforcement response; 7) a schedule of joint exercises and training; and 8) a schedule for producing after-action joint exercise reports to identify how to improve security incident response capabilities.


This legislation would also require the Assistant Secretary to report to Congress within 90 days of enactment on the findings from its initial outreach to airports and to identify best practices that exist across airports.  Finally, this legislation would require the TSA to report to Congress within 90 days of enactment on: 1) the interoperable communications capabilities of law enforcement, fire, and medical personnel responsible for responding to security incidents at airports; 2) active-shooter training for screening personnel; and 3) local law enforcement reimbursable agreements used to offset the costs of security at screening checkpoints.  H.R. 720 would not authorize additional appropriations.

[1] Congressional Record – July 22, 2014, at H6609.


On November 1, 2013, an armed gunman opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Terminal 3, injuring three and killing Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer Gerardo Hernandez.[2]  Hernandez is the first TSA officer in its history to have been killed in the line of duty.[3] “While the response by law enforcement, TSA personnel, and emergency responders was heroic and impressive, after-action reports conducted on the incident showed gaps in communications and coordination procedures.”[4]  H.R. 4802 would attempt to resolve these gaps by improving intergovernmental planning and communication in the event of a security incident.

[2] See Committee Report 113-512, at 3.
[3] Greg Botelho and Michael Martinez, “FBI: 23-year-old L.A. man is suspect in airport shooting that kills TSA officer,” CNN (Nov. 1, 2013).
[4] See Committee Report 113-512, at 3.


According to CBO estimates conducted for identical legislation in the 113th Congress, implementing H.R. 720 would cost about $2.5 million in 2015, assuming the appropriation of the necessary amounts.  However, the bill does not authorize additional appropriations, meaning that H.R. 720 must be carried out using funds already appropriated.  In addition, TSA’s own estimate indicates the costs of providing technical assistance would be incidental, and the required interoperability review would cost approximately $750,000, which would have to be paid for using funds already appropriated.  H.R. 720 does not affect direct spending or revenues.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.