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DeFazio, Thompson, Katko Re-Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to End Diversion of Passenger Security Fees, Bolster Funding for TSA

Mar 11, 2021
Press Release

Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), along with the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and John Katko (R-NY) today re-introduced legislation to bolster funding for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and its workforce, ensuring that the agency has the necessary funds and resources to ensure the safety of America’s air travelers, pay its dedicated Transportation Security Officers (TSO), and invest in twenty-first century security technology.

In 2013, Congress began diverting one-third of the revenue collected from airline passenger security fees to pay for unrelated government spending. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, more than $4.25 billion was collected in security fees. $1.36 billion of this was diverted away from aviation security. More than $19 billion in total will be diverted by FY 2027 unless current law is changed.

The Funding for Aviation Screeners and Threat Elimination Restoration (FASTER) Act would eliminate this diversion, ensure that passenger security fees go solely towards aviation security, and prevent Congress from raiding the funds in the future. The FASTER Act would redirect billions of dollars in funding back to TSA, so they can invest in their workforce, twenty-first century screening technology, and ensure a more efficient and safer screening process, especially as air travel is expected to pick back up this year.

The legislation would also ensure that the TSA Administrator can access September 11 Security Fee revenue during any government shutdown. This will provide TSA with the necessary ability to provide financial stability to its hard-working TSOs, who are amongst the lowest-paid federal employees, in the event of a future lapse in appropriations.

“As the COVID-19 recovery continues and Americans return to traveling, it’s imperative that TSA has the necessary resources to ensure our aviation security,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The FASTER Act will finally end this budget gimmick and provide TSA the full funding that it needs and that Congress intended it to get—funding that is already paid by travelers —to invest in state-of-the-art equipment and hire additional staff in order to make air travel not only safer, but more efficient.”

“It defies logic that such a significant portion of the security fees passengers pay in their airline tickets are not going towards aviation security and the functions of the Transportation Security Administration,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, Chair of the Committee on Homeland Security. “As TSA gears up for the return of the traveling public as we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, TSA must have every resource at its disposal to ensure our skies are secure. The FASTER Act will allow TSA to retain all the fees it collects so it can properly staff airports, invest in new technology, and efficiently and effectively secure our aviation sector. I am proud to join Chairman DeFazio and Ranking Member Katko to reintroduce this critical legislation and look forward to working together to right this wrong.”

“I’ve consistently raised serious concerns about the need to improve our aviation security,” said Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security. “The FASTER Act allows TSA to invest in more robust airport security infrastructure by redirecting revenues accumulated by security fees. Ensuring TSA has adequate staff and resources is essential to our national security, and I am proud to once again co-sponsor this legislation that improves TSA preparedness.”

"You get what you pay for... unless it’s the airline security fee that accompanies your ticket," said Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. "That money is directed to all kinds of other priorities while aviation security remains subject to government shutdowns. Enough! We applaud Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and Ranking Member John Katko (R-NY) for introducing the FASTER Act that would end diversion of the 9/11 security fee and ensure TSA is funded through any lapse in appropriations. September 11th changed aviation security forever and Congress established the 9/11 Security Fee to ensure aviation security would always be funded. We urge Congress to pass the FASTER Act without delay."

“AFGE is proud to endorse the Funding for Aviation Screeners and Threat Elimination Restoration (FASTER) Act,” said Everett Kelley, National President, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO. “Americans deserve to know that any monies paid by travelers for transportation security are spent to keep the flying public safe and not used for other, unrelated purposes. AFGE is especially thankful Chair DeFazio wisely included a provision to ensure funds could be available to keep Transportation Security Officers on the job in the event of a future government shutdown. The safety of air passengers is of the utmost importance, and we must use our resources accordingly.”

“It is well past time to fully restore the 9/11 Passenger Security Fee to its intended purpose of paying the cost of TSA to screen passengers and their baggage,” said Airports Council International-North American President and CEO Kevin M. Burke.  “For nearly a decade, billions have been taken from TSA’s core screening mission to subsidize other federal programs, delaying the deployment of new technology, the maintenance of systems, and the addition of new officers to TSA security checkpoints.  Our aviation passengers deserve better.  As airports prepare for a return of travelers to their facilities, we greatly appreciate the leadership of Chairs DeFazio and Thompson to ensure passengers are getting their money’s worth from their 9/11 Passenger Security Fee when they purchase an airplane ticket.” 

“As the travel industry’s recovery approaches, a well-functioning aviation security system that appropriately balances security and free flow of travel will critical to the travel agencies and their clients,” said Eben Peck, Executive Vice President for Advocacy at the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA). “That balance is threatened by the unconscionable, ongoing diversion of the Aviation Passenger Security Fee away from civil aviation security services and we commend Chairman DeFazio, Chairman Thompson, Representative Katko and other supporters for pushing to stop this practice through the FASTER Act.”

“Now more than ever, new technology and equipment is necessary to ensure business travelers can adhere to mitigation efforts, returning home safe and healthy after their business meetings,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO Global Business Travel Association. “The diversion of the 9/11 Security Fee must end so that TSA can fully meet its duty of protecting travelers.”

Reps. DeFazio, Thompson, and Katko were joined by Reps. Allred, Beatty, Blumenauer, Bonamici, Brownley, Clarke, Cohen, Rodney Davis, Demings, Eshoo, Huffman, Kilmer, Jackson Lee, Jayapal, Lamb, Langevin, Lynch, McNerney, Napolitano, Norton, Pallone, Pappas, Pascrell, Perlmutter, Phillips, Rice, Schrader, Sires, Soto, Titus, and Welch in introducing the legislation.

The FASTER Act has been endorsed by Airlines for America, Air Line Pilots Association, Airports Council International-North America, American Federation of Government Employees, American Society of Travel Advisors, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Global Business Travel Association, and U.S. Travel Association.