Today the Transportation Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee met to markup three bills. Two of the bills (HR 3102 and HR 3144) dealt exclusively with airport security issues, but the third bill (not yet introduced) did deal with surface transportation security issues that I addressed in an earlier blog.
Surface Transportation Security Amendments
The Subcommittee did amend the Transportation Security Administration Reform and Improvement Act of 2015. One of the amendments dealt with redress issues in the portion of the bill dealing with airport personnel security checks. The only other amendment replaced §203, the section that I took objection to in my earlier post.
The new §203 continues to deal with security training issues related to front line employees in public transportation and over-the-road bus-lines. Instead of eliminating the current requirement for TSA to establish requirements for such training programs the new section requires a report by the TSA Administrator on the status of the implementation of 6 USC 1137 and 6 USC 1184, the statutory sections requiring such training. The report is to address the specific challenges TSA has had in establishing regulations requiring the provision “of basic security training to public transportation frontline employees and over-the-road bus frontline employees for preparedness for potential security threats and conditions”
The original bill and the amended version both completely ignore the fact that a similar security training program requirement for freight railroads (6 USC 1167) has also been effectively ignored by the TSA.
Completely missing from the bill now is any reference to the two sections mentioned in the earlier version requiring vetting of those personnel against the TSDB. While I am glad to see that the Subcommittee decided not to eliminate those provisions, I was disappointed in seeing that there was no requirement for TSA to explain why 6 USC 1140 and §1520 of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 had not been complied with any better than had the training requirements.
While the security awareness training of public transportation employees is important, I think that it is much more important to ensure that those employees are not known to have associations with terrorist organizations. As the recent attack by a trusted vendor delivery driver at the Air Products facility in France last month showed us, failure to check personnel against such lists puts people at risk.