TSA chief says no airport passenger screenings will be eliminated

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Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske said Tuesday that the agency will not be eliminating passenger screening at any federalized U.S. airports after reports that such a proposal was under consideration.

Pekoske’s comments come in response to a CNN report last week that said TSA was considering cutting passenger screenings at airports that serve planes with 60 seats or fewer. The move would potentially save $115 million annually, but officials expressed serious concerns about its negative impact on national security.

“TSA will not be eliminating passenger screening at any federalized U.S. airport as suggested in recent media reports,” Pekoske said Tuesday in a statement to The Hill.


“Reporting on pre-decisional budget exercises is misleading as it doesn’t reflect the entire process, and certainly doesn’t take into account the dedicated TSA professionals who work tirelessly to assess impact, risk, and feasibility of different scenarios,” Pekoske added.

The CNN report cited senior agency officials and internal documents, and indicated the proposal could affect roughly 150 airports. If implemented, passengers and luggage arriving from smaller airports would have been screened at larger connecting hubs.

Michael Bilello, a spokesman for TSA, said last week that no decision on eliminating passenger screenings had been made, adding that the agency reviews the screening process on an annual basis.

Pekoske, who was confirmed to lead the TSA last August, told The Hill in July that he hopes to implement new technology during his tenure to speed up the screening process at airports.


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