Congress reportedly plans to cut the staffing budget of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), according to the U.S. Travel Association, which reported the news last week in protest.
"We are concerned that a reduction in staffing levels below FY15 levels will not be adequate to deliver an effective security system and earn the confidence of the traveling public," U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow wrote in a letter sent to the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriations. "We, therefore, strongly urge that the Committee revisit its FY16 recommendations and find cost savings in other areas to allow funding for security staff to be kept at current levels rather than reduced by some 600 employees."
Covert testing recently has revealed vulnerabilities within TSA, and funding cuts are likely to exacerbate those, according to Dow, who warned that cuts also would increase hassle for travelers.
"Find me the traveler or politician who thinks the TSA is doing such a terrific job that cutting its resources makes abundant sense. Not only are well-publicized TSA errors virtually guaranteed to not improve, but current air travel hassles are already causing Americans to skip 38 million plane trips a year, costing the economy more than $35 billion, and would likely get worse. We don't see this funding proposal as a means to address weaknesses and inefficiencies in the system," Dow continued. "Just this week, new TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger spent an hour with some of our industry's top executives, and it is clear he is well aware of the challenges facing his agency and its importance to the American economy and way of life. This budget blueprint ties his hands before he has a chance to make a shred of progress. We support Administrator Neffenger's funding request, and hope Congress will give the issue a full airing before a final decision is made."