TSA considering cuts to air marshal program: report
The Trump administration is reportedly considering major budget cuts to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including cuts to the air marshal program.
CNN reported that the agency is considering an internal report detailing up to $300 million worth of funding cuts, including a plan that would reduce the number of full-time air marshals employed by the TSA, while another would end security screenings for passengers flying out of small- to medium-sized airports.
That plan would end security lines at about 150 airports across the U.S., an idea that has been widely dismissed by aviation security experts and lawmakers, according to CNN.
Michael Bilello, a spokesman for TSA, did not deny the proposal existed, but told The Hill this week that there has been “no decision to eliminate passenger screening at any federalized U.S. airport.”
Other cuts being considered include reductions on benefits for new part-time employees and a reduction in the amount of cash reimbursements for local law enforcement agencies for the use of K-9 officers.
Cuts to the air marshal program alone could save the agency up to $39 million by 2020, according to the internal TSA report as reported by CNN, while the controversial plan to end some airport screenings could save as much as $115 million.
“Any potential operational changes to better allocate limited taxpayer resources are simply part of pre-decisional discussions and deliberations and would not take place without a risk assessment to ensure the security of the aviation system,” Bilello told The Hill on Wednesday.
The TSA has been the subject of criticism in post-9/11 years over security screenings in airports, which some have said violate civil liberties and others say add to long wait times in U.S. terminals.
In June the agency faced backlash after a video on social media showed a 96-year-old woman in a wheelchair being searched by agents at Washington Dulles International Airport.