Daily Inter Lake: Tester asks TSA to delay employee screening rule

by Adrian Knowler

Sen. Jon Tester has called on the Transportation Security Administration to delay implementation of new rules that would require airports to physically screen employees.

In an Aug. 18 letter co-signed by Republican North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, Tester, a Democrat, urged the Biden Administration to delay implementation of the employee screening policy that the pair said would “impose undue burdens on airport operators.”

The TSA rule, which goes into effect Sept. 25, would require airport operators to set up and pay for an independent security checkpoint to screen airport employees.

The senators asked TSA administrators to push back implementation by one year while it is studied further.

The letter identifies smaller rural airports located in states such as Montana and North Dakota as particularly hard hit by the new policy, calling rural air travel essential to America’s economy.

The senators said they agree with the policy’s intent, writing in the letter that unscreened employees could represent a potential safety risk, but that the policy’s “full financial and operational effects” should be re-evaluated.

Glacier Park International Airport Director Rob Ratkowski said that the state’s airport leaders have been lobbying Montana’s congressional delegation to stop or delay the policy.

“A lot of the airports in Montana expressed distaste for this because it’s a fundamental shift in that responsibility from TSA to airport administrators,” said Ratkowski in a recent interview. “This proposed procedure would pass the screening responsibility on to us. None of us object to the concept of employees being screened, but the question is who does it?”

Tester recently inserted similar language into the Department of Homeland Security funding bill that, if passed, would ask TSA to delay the rule.