Lawmakers Battle Over Expanding Privatized Screening at Airports

By Matthew Harwood

Rep. Daniel Lungren (R-CA) argued that Pistole’s “clear and substantial advantage” standard has sent a clear message to airports that SPP applications will be denied. “Would you think it unreasonable for an airport, such as the one in my district, to not have applied for this yet because they believe this is disfavored by you and TSA?”

Thompson defended Pistole’s "clear and substantial advantage" standard. “Contrary to claims made at the time, the administrator did not shut down the program,” he said. “Rather, he set a reasonable standard for expansion. That standard was met last week by a low-risk seasonal airport in Montana and TSA approved their application.”

That airport was West Yellowstone, which opens each spring and closes each fall. To staff the airport each year, TSA flew in six TSOs to staff the small airport’s single security lane, according to CNN. Under the SPP, a security contractor chosen by the state can now staff those positions with local residents. It’s expected that this move will save the federal government money because the federal government will not have to pay TSO travel, per diem, and housing.

Thompson also objected to the soon-to-be-signed FAA reauthorization, which will mandate that the TSA administrator grant an airport access to the SPP program if the agency cannot show privatized screeners will harm security.

“It amounts to a congressional attempt to micromanage the SPP by stripping the administrator of his discretion,” he said.

♦ Photo by redjar/Flickr


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