House Adopts Tipton Amendment to Reduce Delays at Rural Airports

Jun 5, 2013

WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved an amendment offered by Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) to reduce delays at rural airports.

The amendment would cut $4 million from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) budget, and redirect those resources to replace equipment at small and rural airports that have had important passenger screening devices removed as a result of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization Act resulting in unnecessary delays and intrusions. The funds being redirected from TSA to improve passenger screening at small airports are from its administrative budget, and as such do not impact passenger security.

“Passengers into rural airports in my district including Yampa Valley, Montrose, Gunnison and Durango, have been impacted by unnecessary delays and intrusions because of the removal of security screening devices that were sent to larger airports,” said Tipton. “TSA’s implication that security checkpoints at small and rural airports are somehow less critical is inaccurate. Once passengers clear screening at small and rural airports they typically do not receive additional screening for connecting flights at other, potentially larger, airports.

The amendment will assist with reducing unnecessary delays for passengers at small and rural airports by providing funding to speed up the replacement of security equipment removed by TSA.”

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 required the use of Automated Target Recognition (ATR) scanners, or “gumby scanners” at all airports by June 1, 2012. TSA’s interpretation and implementation of the law has caused numerous problems for passengers traveling from small and rural airports throughout the country. One of TSA’s manufacturers who provided equipment for passenger screening could not comply with the changes in the law and provide the new equipment. As a result, TSA decided to remove 174 of these noncompliant machines throughout the country. Rather than waiting for funding for new machines or finding alternative ways to fix this problem TSA made the arbitrary decision to take compliant scanners from small and rural airports throughout the country and install them in larger airports that lost their noncompliant scanners.  This has resulted in delays at small airports where pat-downs and other less effective measures have had to take the place of the equipment that has yet to be replaced.

Watch Congressman Tipton’s floor speech here and read the transcript here.