By Keith Laing
The Transportation Security Administration is abandoning its responsibility to secure exit lanes in airport terminals, a group of Massachusetts lawmakers said on Tuesday.
The TSA is scheduled to transfer control of exit lanes, which are the checkpoints where airline passengers are not allowed to return through after departing terminals, to airports themselves beginning in January.
The Massachusetts delegation wrote in a letter to TSA Administrator John Pistole that was released on Tuesday that the agency should reconsider and continue securing the exit lanes themselves.
"We support TSA's original decision to staff exit lanes with TSA employees and have questions about how TSA's plans could undermine aviation security," the lawmakers wrote.
The TSA said Tuesday that it will save millions of dollars by shifting responsibility for securing exit lanes to airports, though the facilities have worried about their ability to pick up the costs for the protection.
"In order to most efficiently use TSA’s limited resources and to focus on the priority of screening passengers and baggage, TSA has proposed transferring exit lane access control responsibility to local airport authorities, reducing the agency’s budget request by $88.1 million for FY 2014," the agency said in a statement that was provided to The Hill.
"TSA does not currently fund security staffing at exit lanes at over two-thirds of federalized airports, as it is not a screening function," the TSA statement continued. "This proposal makes staffing responsibility standard across all exit lanes, consistent with airport perimeter access controls, with TSA ensuring compliance through its regulatory inspection program."
The Massachusetts lawmakers said it would cost $4.5 million per year for Boston's Logan International Airport to assume responsibility for securing its exit lanes.
The letter to Pistole calling for the TSA to reconsider its decision was signed by the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation.