Hearing Alert: Technology Deployment Major Focus of Hearing on TSA’s FY25 Budget Request 

Technology Deployment Major Focus of Hearing on TSA’s FY25 Budget Request 
May 15, 2024

Today, the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security held a hearing entitled “An Examination of the Transportation Security Administration’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget” with TSA Administrator David Pekoske. The hearing focused heavily on the need to accelerate deployment of checkpoint security technology, specifically Computed Tomography (CT) and the next generation of Credential Authentication Technology (CAT-2). Members also discussed TSA staffing and compensation, the diversion of the aviation passenger security fee, customer experience, cybersecurity, and elimination of funding for the Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) reimbursement program and state and local LEO-led canine teams.
Pekoske testified that, based on past, present and future projected funding, TSA will deploy CT to all checkpoint lanes at all airports by FY2042, or in approximately 18 years. The timeframe for full deployment of CAT-2 with facial recognition capability is in 25 years, by FY2049. Pekoske stated that these timeframes can be accelerated significantly to within the next 10 years if TSA is provided full and dedicated funding for technology investment and deployment. Subcommittee Chair Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) questioned if the extended timeframes for checkpoint technology deployment were putting U.S. aviation security behind other countries, particularly in western Europe. Pekoske explained that TSA remains a global leader in aviation security but that several European countries are able to more quickly deploy advanced checkpoint screening technology because airport operators are responsible for the purchase of the equipment. Chair Gimenez seized upon the idea and suggested that the “European model” may be the solution for the U.S. and that airport operators should be responsible for purchasing checkpoint screening technology based on TSA’s standards. Chair Gimenez ended the hearing by asking to further explore with Administrator Pekoske the idea that airports could purchase and deploy more checkpoint screening technology faster if required by TSA to do so.
Administrator Pekoske and most of the Members of the Subcommittee present expressed support for ending the diversion of the aviation passenger security fee and providing the funding as intended to TSA. In response to a question by Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY), who referred to the diversion of the security fee as a “bait and switch” on the American taxpayers, Pekoske unequivocally answered that without question, the skies would be safer and more efficient if the diversion of the fee were ended and TSA had the funding from the fee to invest in more people and better technology.
Ranking Member Shri Thanedar (D-MI) expressed support for the LEO reimbursement program and stipends for state and local-LEO canine teams but recognized that TSA had difficult choices to make in pursuing the new pay plan for its workforce, which Thanedar also fully supports. Rep. Troy Carter (D-LA), who does not serve on the Subcommittee but was allowed to participate at today’s hearing, entered a letter into the record from his local sheriff detailing the detrimental impacts of the elimination of funding for the state and local-led canine teams. Pekoske acknowledged the tremendous value of the canine program but stated that top-line budget constraints forced the agency to make the difficult choice not to request funding for it. Rep. Carter replied that the choice was penny wise but pound foolish and encouraged the Subcommittee to support restoring funding in FY25. Rep. Carter also urged Pekoske to tailor any no-cost agreements to continue the state and local LEO-led canine program to meet the unique needs of local LEO agencies.
Additional details:
•    TSA Administrator Pekoske's written statement
•    TSA Administrator Pekoske's oral statement
•    Video of today's hearing