Tuesday, March 26, 2013

HR 1204 Introduced – Aviation Security

As I mentioned earlier Rep. Thompson (D,MS) recently introduced HR 1204, the Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act of 2013. This bill would require the DHS Assistant Secretary for TSA to formally establish an Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) to advise the Department on “aviation security matters, including on the development and implementation of policies, programs, rulemaking, and security directives pertaining to aviation security, while adhering to sensitive security guidelines”{added in 49 USC §44946(b)(1)}.

According to a press release from Thompson, the ASAC was actually formed in 1989 but became inactive until it was reinstituted by TSA Administrator Pistole in 2011. What this bill would do is to require the Administrator to consult with the ASAC on the items listed above. Rep. Thompson noted that he hoped that such consultation would help to prevent actions like the recently announced TSA policy change to allow small knives to be carried by passengers aboard commercial airplanes.

The ASAC would not be just focused on passenger security issues. The bill would require the establishment of subcommittees to address:

• Air Cargo Security {§44946(d)};
• General Aviation Security {§44946(e)};
• Perimeter Security {§44946(f)}; and
• Risk-Based Screening of both passengers and cargo {§44946(g)};

Over the years many activist organizations have objected to the formation and activities of various federal advisory committees, complaining that they provide big business with too much influence over the regulatory process. Thompson’s bill seeks to pre-empt many of these types of complaints by mandating that labor unions, privacy organizations, minority owned small businesses and advocacy groups all have some representation on the Committee.

This is a motherhood and apple pie bill that will certainly pass with bipartisan support if it reaches the floor in both houses of Congress. The problem will be in ensuring that the leadership actually brings it to the floor. That problem may be avoided if this bill gets tacked onto an authorization bill. The most likely candidate would be the TSA authorization, but it could also end up attached to a DOT authorization bill.

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