Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act of 2013by Representative Bennie G. Thompson
Posted on 2013-03-14
in the house of representatives
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, today, I am introducing
legislation that strengthens our transportation security.
The 9/11 Commission identified key vulnerabilities that existed across our transportation security and how they were exploited by the 9/11 hijackers.
Soon after 9/11, industry representatives across the transportation sector, including labor, cargo and aviation representatives came together to support the Transportation Security Administration in developing a robust and layered security program that addressed threats and vulnerabilities across the aviation security.
The Aviation Security Advisory Committee, first established in 1989 after the Pan American World Airways Flight 103, has played a critical role in the development of transportation security policies and protocols.
However, under TSA, the ASAC remained inactive for several years and reportedly reorganized in 2008 and renewed with a charter in 2011 after receiving pressure from Congress to reconstitute this group.
This was done after stakeholders expressed ongoing frustrations to Congress about the lack in dialog between them and TSA in developing transportation security policies.
This legislation will establish the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) into law and will ensure that TSA engages with critical stakeholders prior and throughout the modification of critical policy changes such as the one announced last week.
Specifically, my legislation authorizes the ASAC and requires the establishment of targeted working groups on air cargo, general aviation, perimeter security and risk based security, which will allow the ASAC to address security issues that require effective collaboration between the government and the private sector.
One glaring example that underscores the need for this legislation is TSA's recent decision to modify its prohibited items list and allow knives and sporting equipment that could be used as weapons through checkpoint security without a robust and formal engagement with stakeholders.
TSA decided that passengers would be allowed to bring knives with blades as long as 2.36 inches on airplanes. Further, TSA adjusted its ``Prohibited Items List'' to allow passengers to bring up to one hockey stick, one lacrosse stick, two golf clubs, and small souvenir bats as carry on items.
Not surprising, this announcement immediately received significant criticism from industry representatives, air carriers, passenger groups, flight attendants, pilots, law enforcement groups and even the representative for TSA's frontline screener workforce.
I too have expressed my deepest concerns with this policy, not just because TSA is allowing certain questionable items aboard a plane without a justification for its decision, but because TSA decided not to consult with stakeholder representatives prior to announcing changes to this policy.
The general public and stakeholders such as flight attendants, pilots, airlines, and air marshals are the most affected by this decision.
By authorizing the ASAC into law, we can ensure that TSA will not dismantle the important advisory committee and be required to utilize this valuable mechanism when developing policies that impact millions of passengers and critical stakeholders.
I want to also recognize my colleagues Congressman Richmond, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security, and all other members of the Subcommittee, including Congresswoman Jackson Lee and Congressman Swalwell, as original cosponsors to this legislation.
Enactment of my legislation will increase security in the aviation system and mitigate ever-present terrorist threats.