Wed, May 23, 2012
Republicans Had Offered An Amendment To Preserve Fees At Current Levels
The Department of Homeland Security bill passed Tuesday by the Senate Appropriations Committee contains language that would increase passenger security fees in an effort to make up a budget shortfall at TSA in the FY2013 budget.
The committee bill summary indicates that the legislation "provides $7.633 billion, $208 million below fiscal year 2012. This amount is reduced by offsetting collections and fees, including the requested increase in the air passenger security fee for fiscal year 2013. The bill includes funding to support approximately 48,000 Transportation Security Officer FTEs, annualizes 145 behavior detection officers, annualizes 12 Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Teams, and makes critical investments in explosives detection systems, passenger screening technologies, and air cargo security. The bill also provides a total of $24 million for the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, $11.5 million above the request. The bill also includes several funding oversight requirements including expenditure plans for checkpoint security technology investments, explosives detection systems for checked baggage, and air cargo security. In addition, language is included requiring TSA to provide a five-year investment
plan forecast for passenger screening technologies, and conduct an independent health study on Advanced Imaging Technology machines."
The Hill report in its On The Money blog that the fees will increase from $2.50 to $5.00 to make up the shortfall if the bill passes in its current form. The amendment to strike the fee increase was introduced by Republican Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX) and Dan Coates (IN), which kept the fees at their current level by cutting grants to state and local governments, funding for emergency food and shelter, as well as $89 million for a new highway interchange leading to the TSA's new headquarters in southeast Washington, D.C. Hutchinson said that the Senate had passed on a fee increase when it approved the FAA reauthorization bill.
But the amendment was defeated 15-15 in the committee, with the tie going to the position held by the majority party. One Democrat, Nebraska's Ben Nelson, crossed party lines to vote against the fee increase.
Subcommittee chair Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said if the fees were not increased, the $350 million shortfall would have to be provided by taxpayers, and it was better to ask airline passengers to make up that difference.
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