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Sheila J.
Democrat TX 18

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  • Air Passenger Fee Limitations

    by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

    Posted on 2014-09-16

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    JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.



    I rise in strong support of H.R. 5462.

    At the outset, I would like to commend the chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security, Representative Hudson, for the bipartisan approach he has taken with this legislation. I know that Mr. Thompson and Mr. Richmond have joined him on this legislation, and I have as well.

    H.R. 5462 seeks to remove any confusion about a key provision of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 as enacted into law in December 2013. Section 601 of that law provided for the aviation security fee that the Transportation Security Administration collects to increase to $5.60 per one-way trip.

    We know that since 9/11 this department was created, and the fees have been utilized to continue to protect the homeland, fees that are assessed on the airlines and utilized by the Transportation Security Administration, but we are attempting to make sure that the process is fair. The language did not specifically cap the fee for a round trip ticket, but common sense would tell us that Congress intended the passenger fee for a round trip to be twice that of a one-way trip, or $11.20.

    Regrettably, TSA has missed this intent, resulting in some passengers being assessed excessive fees.

    We have the responsibility here in the United States Congress to provide the kind of oversight that treats the Transportation Security Administration fairly: providing them with resources; ensuring that they are protecting the traveling public; ensuring that their TSOs are trained; and, as well, acknowledging the important work that they do. But we have, likewise, a responsibility to the traveling public, and we must balance that with making sure that the fees that are assessed are not excessive.

    The legislation before us today clarifies that the passenger security fee should be capped for a round trip at twice the rate assessed for a one-way trip.

    Mr. Speaker, for the better part of 5 months, the Committee on Homeland Security and others in Congress have been engaged in a back- and-forth with TSA on this issue. It is my sincere hope that, with this guidance and the enactment of this legislation, this will resolve this issue, once and for all, for the American flying public. Again, as I indicated, it is important to be balanced and fair.

    Simply put, this straightforward, bipartisan legislation will ensure that passengers are no longer charged air transportation fees above and beyond what Congress envisioned and intended.

    Let me again thank Chairman Hudson for his leadership on this issue and for the give-and-take that has gone on.

    I do want to add two points to my closing remarks as I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 5462 so that TSA can no longer charge passenger security fees above and beyond what is reasonable and what Congress has intended.

    I think it is important--and I know Mr. Hudson will agree with me-- the work of the Transportation Security Administration and the improvement of training that we have seen in TSO officers in the line of defense, if you will, that they serve in the Nation's airports.

    I want to acknowledge an incident that allegedly occurred, or occurred, with a FAM officer in Nigeria. I want to express to the Federal Air Marshals my concern for that issue and that incident. To the particular air marshal who was in the line of duty and his having been attacked with a hypodermic needle, we express our concern, and we are pleased that there are continued negotiations regarding the process of those FAMs going through international airports.

    Lastly, I would say--and I hope that we will engage in this discussion--I know Chairman Hudson is having a number of meetings. We are all aware, on the backdrop on the debate we will have tomorrow on ISIL, of the potential of the impact on the homeland. We know that we have about 100 American passport individuals who have left for the foreign fighters.

    I am looking to introduce in very short order legislation that indicates No Fly for Foreign Fighters Act of 2014, which gives greater details and assessment of the No Fly List, the watch list, to make sure that those with American passports who have gone to the fight cannot be on our airlines; so I am looking forward to working with the committee on this issue.

    I only offer that, Mr. Speaker, because of the important work of the Transportation Security Subcommittee, and the responsibility that we have here on the securing of the [[Page H7613]] homeland really is a strong component of the Transportation Security Subcommittee.

    You have been a leader along with the ranking member. I look forward to working with you, and I believe that the Homeland Security Committee and the Homeland Security Department are key factors in securing the homeland in the backdrop of this new threat of ISIL as all of the other committees work together on making sure that Americans are safe.

    I conclude by asking my colleagues to support H.R. 5462 and to support the idea of a fair and balanced assessment on passenger security fees.

    Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I would like to commend the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security, Representative Hudson, for the bipartisan approach he has taken with this legislation.

    H.R. 5462 seeks to remove any confusion about a key provision of the ``Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013,'' As enacted into law in December 2013.

    Section 601 of that law provided for the aviation security fee that Transportation Security Administration collects to increase to $5.60 per one-way trip.

    The language did not specifically cap the fee for a round-trip ticket but common sense would tell us that Congress intended the passenger fee for a round-trip to be twice that of a one-way trip or $11.20.

    Regrettably, TSA has missed this intent, resulting in some passengers being assessed excessive fees.

    The legislation before us today clarifies that the passenger security fee should be capped for a round-trip at twice the rate assessed for a one-way trip.

    Mr. Speaker, for the better part of five months, the Committee on Homeland Security and others in Congress have been engaged in back-and- forth with TSA on this issue.

    It is my sincere hope that enactment of this legislation will resolve this issue, once and for all, for the American flying public. Mr. Speaker, simply put, this straightforward, bipartisan, legislation will ensure that passengers are no longer charged air transportation fees above and beyond what Congress envisioned and intended.

    I urge all Members to support H.R. 5462 so that TSA can no longer charge passengers security fees above and beyond what is reasonable and what Congress intended.

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