Tester Leads Bipartisan Letter Urging Biden Administration to Delay Burdensome TSA Employee Screening Policy

Senator stresses concern over the policy’s impact on smaller, rural airports

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today led a bipartisan letter alongside Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) urging the Biden Administration to delay implementation of a new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee screening policy that would place burdensome requirements on Montana airports.

In their letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, Senators Tester and Hoeven stressed that while they share the agency’s commitment to enhancing the safety and security of air travel, they have concerns that the new screening policy would place an undue burden on smaller airports in rural states.

“We have serious concerns about the National Amendment’s implementation, effectiveness, and cost to operators in its current form. We are especially concerned about the National Amendment’s impacts on smaller, rural airports like those located in our states. These airports are essential to travel nationwide and serve as critical parts of America’s economic engine.”

The Senators noted in their letter that the Senate Appropriations Committee previously expressed concern about the TSA policy and requested its implementation be delayed: “As the Senate Appropriations Committee noted in language in the fiscal year (FY) 2024 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, the National Amendment appears to be being implemented ‘in a manner that imposes undue burdens on airport operators.’ The Committee also expressed concern that the National Amendment ‘may place requirements on non-TSA security screeners that exceed their legal authority’ and that it is being ‘implemented prior to a thorough cost benefit analysis or risk assessment.’ Due to these serious concerns, the Committee urged TSA to delay implementation of the National Amendment for at least one year and to reassess the security benefits of the amendment as well as its ‘full financial and operational impacts’ on the airports impacted by these requirements.”

Tester and Hoeven concluded their letter by urging TSA to immediately delay implementation of the burdensome policy: “We request that TSA heed the concerns raised by Congress and airport operators regarding the National Amendment and immediately delay its implementation.”

Tester’s bipartisan letter to TSA Administrator Pekoske follows Tester’s recent success in securing language in the Senate’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill that calls on TSA to delay implementation of the National Amendment to avoid ineffective and costly screening requirements for airport workers.

Tester has been a relentless advocate for Montana’s smaller, rural airports. As part of his continued efforts to lower costs for Montanans and expand access to reliable air service for rural communities, Tester earlier this year introduced his bipartisan Small Community Air Service Enhancement Act to increase flight options for travelers in rural America.

You can read Senator Tester’s bipartisan letter HERE.