Wednesday, April 8, 2020

TSA to Allow COVID-19 HME Extensions

Today the Transportation Security Administration published a notice in the Federal Register (85 FR 19767-19769) providing for an “Exemption From Renewal of the Hazardous Materials Endorsement
Security Threat Assessment for Certain Individuals”. This would clear the way for States to provide up to 180-day extensions of current Hazardous Material Endorsements (HME) for commercial driver’s licenses.

Today’s notice states that:

“TSA has determined that it is in the public interest to grant an exemption from certain process requirements in 49 CFR part 1572 related to STAs for HMEs, given the need for commercial drivers with an HME to continue to work without interruption during the current COVID-19 crisis. This action would not compromise the current level of transportation security resulting from the HME requirements because TSA maintains the ability to conduct recurrent security threat checks on HME holders and take action to revoke an HME if derogatory information becomes available, regardless of expiration date.”

The notice makes it clear that: “The exemption permits, but does not require, States to extend the expiration date for HMEs.”

The following conditions apply to the exemption:

• The extensions will only be available with respect to eligible individuals, ensuring that TSA has relatively current information on the individual based on their last STA (No Determination of Security Threat) and can continue to conduct recurrent-vetting;

• The extensions will be for a set, limited time, dependent on the duration and scope of the COVID-19 crisis, and subject to possible modification by TSA before the closure of the effective period; and

• TSA will continue to recurrently vet these individuals against Federal terrorism and national security-related watch lists and databases during the period of the extensions and retain its full authority to immediately revoke or suspend an individual's STA (Determination of No Security Threat) and to order a State to revoke an individual's HME.

This exemption would run through July 31st, 2020.

There is nothing in this notice that would indicate that TSA is considering a similar extension of the expiration of Transportation Workers Identification Credentials (TWIC).

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