WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) announced legislation Thursday, the Aviation Security Checkpoint Technology Fund Act of 2023 (S. 2548), which would ensure the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has sufficient funds to deploy the latest security technology at the 2400 airport security lanes nationwide at our 420 airports. The measure would not add any additional fees, only dedicate funding from the current Passenger Security Fee (PSF) that already is applied to passenger airline tickets. Congressmen C.A.Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.-02) and Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.-01) have introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.
“Travel across the United States is on the rise and our Transportation Security Officers must have the latest tools to keep up with demand,” said Senator Cardin. “Congress needs to stop raiding TSA funds and allow the agency to do its job of keeping the flying public safe by using the best available technology.”
“Airports across the country are overflowing with travelers, and more travelers means more security risks. It’s imperative TSA has up-to-date equipment to screen travelers and luggage to ensure safety at our airports,” said Senator Moran, ranking member of the Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation Subcommittee of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
The Passenger Security Fee (PSF) is applied to passenger airline tickets to provide funding for TSA. The Aviation Security Capital Fund (ASCF), which is funded by this fee, exists to offset annual appropriations and to ensure sufficient funding based on passenger usage. However, Congress has been diverting one-third of the revenue collected from these fees to pay for unrelated government spending. Billions of dollars 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 Transportation Security Officers (TSO’s) to security checkpoints. According to TSA, by FY27, under the current budget allocations, more than $19 billion in total will be diverted away from securing our airports and the traveling public.
TSA uses various technologies and programs to keep passengers and crew safe at the airport, including Computed Tomography (CT), Credential Authentication Technology (CAT), Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), Automated Threat Recognition (ATR), and the Checkpoint Property Screening System (CPSS).
According to recent testimony by the TSA administrator, the agency needs a total of 3,585 CAT and 2,263 CT machines to reach Full Operational Capability (FOC). Currently, CPSS procurements are an estimated 35 percent of FOC, which puts deployments at approximately 28 percent for CPSS and 57 percent for CAT. Based on past, present, and current projected funding, TSA would not meet FOC for CAT machines and CPSS in FY 2049 and FY 2042, respectively.