|July 31, 2002|
On July 26, the House of Representatives defeated a measure by a vote of 211 to 217 that would have eliminated the flexibility that airports need to make the deadline for checking all bags for explosive material. Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12) led the fight to oppose the measure.
"Today we protected a bill that offers a common sense fix to avoid the crisis we were facing by our original decision," stated Congresswoman Granger. "By fending off this attack, we give TSA the flexibility they need to ensure every airport installs the best baggage security systems they can at the soonest possible date."
On November 26, 2001, Congress passed the Aviation Security Act, which established a December 31, 2002 deadline for all airports to check luggage for explosives. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was established to oversee the implementation of this mandate and a number of other transportation security measures.
It is estimated that 25 percent of America’s airports will not be able to meet the December 31st mandate and will be forced to use costly interim systems to meet the demands of the law. Congresswoman Granger worked hard to get an extension of the mandate included in the Homeland Security Act that was approved by committee on Friday, July 19. The Homeland Security Act passed the House of Representatives on July 26, and will now move to the Senate for consideration.
There are a number of facts that demonstrate the difficulty airports and the Transportation Security Administration will have in meeting the current congressional mandate.
* In the 317 days since September 11th, TSA has hired and trained one baggage screener every other day. To meet the congressional mandate, TSA must deploy a fully trained baggage screener every 11 minutes.
* In nine months, TSA has conducted twenty-four site plans at our nation’s airports. In order to meet the congressional mandate, they must complete an airport security site plan every ten hours.
* Since September 11th, TSA has installed a new screening system on the average of one every 1.5 days. In order to make the other 6,600 machines operational by the deadline, TSA will have to install a new machine every 35 minutes between now and December 31, 2002.
Congresswoman Granger pointed to these facts to illustrate that today’s reality does not match earlier congressional hopes.
"Airports and the TSA have a massive task ahead of them. This legislation will give them the flexibility they need to make our skies safe," stated Congresswoman Granger.