November 1, 2001
Administration strongly supports H.R. 3150, which would enable the
Administration to build the toughest airline security workforce possible
in the fastest and most effective way. H.R. 3150 contains the important
security changes that the President has proposed, including expanded
deployment of air marshals on commercial flights, strengthening of
cockpit security, law enforcement personnel at every screening location,
and stringent Federal oversight of airline security screening. The
bill would help ensure the safety of the Nation's airways by giving
the Administration the ability to federalize security, while preserving
its freedom to use high quality private screeners where it is safer
and more effective.
The critical difference between H.R. 3150 and other legislative proposals is that it gives the Federal Government the flexibility it needs to assemble a skilled and disciplined screening work force. Other proposals would mandate that all passenger and baggage screeners are Federal employees. H.R. 3150 would allow the Federal Government to build the best workforce to perform the screening function, subject to rigorous Federal standards, management, supervision, and background checks, and with law enforcement officers at every screening checkpoint. Importantly, H.R. 3150 would allow federal aviation security managers to move aggressively to discipline and fire employees who fail to meet the rigorous new standards. In addition, the Administration is concerned that legislation mandating a federal screening workforce could destabilize the security of the aviation system in the near-term by causing the mass exodus of the private companies currently providing screening services at major commercial airports.
H.R. 3150's model of public/private partnership with strong government oversight mirrors the well-regarded airline security systems chosen by many European countries to improve the quality of their screening services. This model would focus resources where the problem is -- at the screening stations in the airports around the Nation -- not in a new bureaucracy.
The Administration also strongly supports provisions in H.R. 3150 that place responsibility for aviation security solely with the Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT has nearly 35 years of operational experience and substantial infrastructure already in place to facilitate a smooth transition by providing security inspections, enforcement and oversight while the new aviation security system gets up and running. Other legislative proposals give responsibility to another agency or divide responsibility between two agencies. These approaches would not be the best use of our existing resources and would needlessly complicate and delay the transition to federal control of aviation security.
The President is eager to sign an aviation security bill into law. Passage of H.R. 3150 is the quickest, most effective way to increase aviation security. The Administration urges Congress to ensure that these important security measures are enacted quickly, including any refinements that may be necessary to ensure that the Nation's aviation security needs are addressed in the most effective manner possible.