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Airport Security

Senators pan WH proposal to cut airport security programs, hike ticket fees

A Senate panel on Thursday panned a proposal from the White House to cut funding for airport security programs and hike passenger security fees tacked onto airline tickets. In his fiscal 2018 budget request released this week, President Trump called for raising the Transportation Security Administration s (TSA) airline passenger security fee from $5.60 to $6.60 for each connecting flight. The administration said the dollar increase would generate an extra $530 million, which would be funneled toward beefing up aviation security.

But Sen. John BoozmanSenators Pan WH Proposal To Cut Airport Security Programs, Hike Ticket FeesJohn BoozmanSenators pan WH proposal to cut airport security programs, hike ticket fees Congress should let local communities set their own PACE GOP senators on Comey firing: Where they stand MORE[2][3][4][5][6][1] (R-Ark.), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, said at a hearing on Thursday that the idea fails to take into consideration many practical realities.

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The airlines have long urged lawmakers to avoid raising ticket fees, which they say would discourage travel and place an added burden on passengers.

Congress doubled the fee in 2014, and a portion of the revenue collected from the fee is diverted to other parts of the budget not related to airport security.

“There is no justification for asking airline customers to pay more, particularly while our government is diverting billions of dollars in security fees away from TSA checkpoints,” said Airlines for America, the leading trade group representing most of the nation s major airlines.

“Tax increases are not the answer, and will only serve to drive up the cost of flying for millions of Americans who rely on air travel, cost jobs, limit service options to small and medium communities and ultimately harm the U.S economy.”

Sen. Jon TesterSenators Pan WH Proposal To Cut Airport Security Programs, Hike Ticket FeesJon TesterSanders, Democrats introduce minimum wage bill Montana senator on Gianforte: Dealing with media part of the job Senators pan WH proposal to cut airport security programs, hike ticket fees MORE[8][9][10][11][12][7] (D-Mont.), ranking member on the panel, took issue with Trump s spending blueprint for slashing a number of the TSA s airport security programs that were implemented in the wake of the 9/11 terrorists attacks.

“I am concerned about what is missing in this budget when it comes to other priorities, like aviation security,” Tester said. “The threat to aviation is very high we ve had classified briefings on this, in fact but we also see budget cuts to several TSA security programs.”

The budget would reduce the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams from 31 to eight. These “VIPR” teams sweep transit hubs, often using bomb-sniffing dogs, and are designed to serve as a visible security presence around airports, train stations and ports. Lawmakers increased the number of VIPR teams in an aviation bill last year to enhance aviation security following the deadly bombing of an airport in Brussels. But the Trump administration has said the program “achieves few Federal law enforcement priorities.”

The proposal would also reduce TSA staff at airport exit lanes by 1,794 officers. The exit lanes don t have screening checkpoints but have officers present to ensure that people don t walk into the gate areas.

And a TSA grant program that provides money for state and local law enforcement to patrol airports would be completely eliminated under the White House budget, saving around $45 million.

“I m very concerned,” said Sen. Jeanne ShaheenSenators Pan WH Proposal To Cut Airport Security Programs, Hike Ticket FeesJeanne ShaheenSenators pan WH proposal to cut airport security programs, hike ticket fees Dem senator: ‘One of our closest allies’ expressed concern about intelligence sharing Sessions postpones Senate testimony on DOJ funding MORE[14][15][16][17][18][13] (D-N.H.). “I was governor on 9/11, and I can tell you that the support we got from the federal government to help us to be better prepared to fight terrorist attacks was absolutely significant, and we could not have replaced that in another way.”

References

  1. ^ John Boozman (thehill.com)
  2. ^ John Boozman (thehill.com)
  3. ^ Senators pan WH proposal to cut airport security programs, hike ticket fees (thehill.com)
  4. ^ Congress should let local communities set their own PACE (thehill.com)
  5. ^ GOP senators on Comey firing: Where they stand (thehill.com)
  6. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  7. ^ Jon Tester (thehill.com)
  8. ^ Jon Tester (thehill.com)
  9. ^ Sanders, Democrats introduce minimum wage bill (thehill.com)
  10. ^ Montana senator on Gianforte: Dealing with media part of the job (thehill.com)
  11. ^ Senators pan WH proposal to cut airport security programs, hike ticket fees (thehill.com)
  12. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  13. ^ Jeanne Shaheen (thehill.com)
  14. ^ Jeanne Shaheen (thehill.com)
  15. ^ Senators pan WH proposal to cut airport security programs, hike ticket fees (thehill.com)
  16. ^ Dem senator: ‘One of our closest allies’ expressed concern about intelligence sharing (thehill.com)
  17. ^ Sessions postpones Senate testimony on DOJ funding (thehill.com)
  18. ^ MORE (thehill.com)

Crammed carry-on bags prompt new airport security measures

TAMPA, FL. Too many of us are stuffing too much into our carry-on bags. In fact, travelers cram so much into their carry-on items that TSA screeners struggle to find signs of explosives or weapons. Currently, all passengers are required to remove laptop computers from carry-on bags. But in the future, all electronics larger than cell phones, as well as food items and thick books, may be screened in their own bins.

The following airports are experimenting with this enhanced security screening process:

  • Boise (Idaho) Airport
  • Colorado Springs Airport
  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (Florida) International Airport
  • Logan International Airport in Boston
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • Lubbock (Texas) Preston Smith International Airport
  • Luis Mu oz Mar n International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

The TSA will analyze if the screening method improves the screening process, and whether or not it speeds up, or bogs down, lines.

If the pilot program is a success, the TSA may roll out the program to all airports, with new rules implemented after the summer travel rush, once screeners are trained, and announcements made.

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References

  1. ^ Follow Meredyth Censullo on Facebook (www.facebook.com)
  2. ^ >> BACK TO TOP STORIES (wfla.com)

Arrest Made In LaGuardia Airport Security Breach « CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police arrested a man Thursday in a security breach[1] earlier this week at LaGuardia Airport s busy central terminal.

As CBS2 s Tony Aiello reported, the man Pano Kumar Varanasi was charged with criminal trespass. Varanasi, 41, had been visiting family in New Jersey from India. Police said they were able to track Varanasi to his brother s home in New Jersey. He came back to the airport voluntarily and was arrested, WCBS 880 s Marla Diamond reported. On Tuesday night, Varanasi allegedly caused a security breach apparently unintentionally. He walked into the Terminal B secure area through an exit right past a Transportation Security Administration agent who was supposed to stop him but did not.

Surveillance video shows the agent looking on.

He has a bulge under his sweatshirt which clearly causes serious concern, said security expert Anthony Roman. For a critical checkpoint like this, it s just unforgivable. According to the TSA, the guard on duty at the time is facing disciplinary action and may lose her job. This wasn t the only slip-up in the chain of events Tuesday, CBS2 s Magdalena Doris reported. Sources said there was a delay in getting this critical information to Port Authority police, who determined the terminal had to be cleared, searched for bombs and each passenger rescreened.

Port Authority police issued an alert for officers to be on the look out for Varanasi and scoured surveillance video which helped them match the man with an airplane ticket, Doris reported. They determined Varanasi was a passenger from India in the area to visit family and that he was confused as he walked through the exit, Doris said. Police said Varanasi is cooperating with the investigation. The breach raises serious concern and Roman says it could serve as an example for terrorists of what works.

It is just as useful for terror cells planning attacks to observe weak points in that fashion as it is to run dry runs themselves, he said.

People at the airport Thursday were disappointed in the situation.

It s terrible see something like this because you don t know their intentions, said Zach Fritzhand. And it just goes to show that you never know what the person to your left or right s going to do.

If his job is to keep people from passing through and someone passed through, yeah, that s an issue, said Quentin Hardy. U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) issued a letter to the TSA demanding an explanation of what happened on behalf of the Homeland Security committee, calling the security breach extremely serious.

We saw what happened in Manchester, King said. We have to constantly be on our guard, and this was a breach that has to be explained and corrected. King said terrorists could easily take advantage of a lax security situation.

We have to have ironclad security, because ISIS is probing; they re looking. They will see an incident like this, by the way, and try to take advantage of it, he said.

Late Thursday, Varanasi s wife and sister-in-law were at Queens Criminal Court waiting for his arraignment. They declined comment. Varanasi is described as cooperative with police. He told investigators he got confused after flying to LaGuardia from Detroit, and didn t realize he was breaching security. The incident comes as the TSA is testing stricter policies at 10 airports nationwide, now asking passengers to remove items like food, paper and electronics bigger than a cell phone from their carry-ons into a separate bin.

Airport security expert Marshall McClain warns the process will cause back-ups and won t likely act as a deterrent.

To truly have something to deter, you re still going to have to have armed police officers to do that rather than worrying about whether people have too many papers in their luggage, he said. The TSA has not yet extended that pilot program to airports in the New York area. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump s proposed budget eliminates funding for TSA agents at airport exit lanes. Many in Congress said they will fight to keep that $77 million in the budget.

References

  1. ^ in a security breach (newyork.cbslocal.com)