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Lawmakers, flight attendants, passengers oppose TSA proposal to cut screening at airports

If the Transportation Safety Administration eliminates security checkpoints at small airports, like the one ...

Posted: Aug 3, 2018 8:10 AM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 8:10 AM

If the Transportation Safety Administration eliminates security checkpoints at small airports, like the one Bryant Garrett runs in Redding, California, he worries nobody will be checking the bags and pockets of the hundreds of passengers who board planes there every week bound for San Francisco.

"Who would it be?" asked Garrett, the manager of Redding Municipal Airport, who had heard about the proposal, first reported by CNN on Wednesday.

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"I, as the airport, don't want to take on either the liability nor the cost, and I'm quite certain the airlines don't want to take that on. So if TSA backs out, there's a void, and I don't know who would fill it."

Internal documents dated June and July obtained by CNN show a TSA working group is considering ending screening at more than 150 small- and medium-sized airports, which, like Redding, have commercial planes with fewer than 60 people per flight. Passengers connecting to other flights at larger hubs would go through screening before boarding their next flights, according to the documents.

TSA projections called for savings of $115 million annually and a "small (non-zero) undesirable increase in risk." An agency spokesman said the idea "is not a new issue" and the ending of screening is allowed under "the regulations which established TSA."

Redding's airport has six arriving and departing flights daily, each carrying about 50 passengers. Besides terrorism, Garrett said he was concerned with the logistics of screening passengers before their connecting flights, and he wondered who would pay for the armed security guard stationed at the airport; currently it's TSA.

Lawmakers upset

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a letter to TSA that it is "crucial we continue to maintain one level of security and safety across our nation's airports."

"TSA documents proposing to scrap critical passenger security screenings, without so much as a metal detector in place in some airports, would effectively clear the runway for potential terror attacks," the New York Democrat said. "It simply boggles the mind to even think that the TSA has plans like this on paper in the first place."

Sen. Ed Markey wrote in a letter to TSA on Thursday he is "deeply troubled by this proposal." The Massachusetts Democrat noted that on September 11, 2001, terrorists boarded the two airplanes that felled the World Trade Center in Boston.

"We vowed to never repeat the mistakes of the past, which is why I urge you to reconsider any proposal that could jeopardize our aviation security," Markey wrote.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, noted that the government's airport security fees, which are automatically added to commercial airline tickets, are not earmarked for TSA.

"If the administration is truly concerned with TSA's budget, it should urge Congress to ensure 100 percent of passenger security fees go to TSA so it can provide the level of security that terrorist threats necessitate," he said.

Thompson, who is from Mississippi, also noted the proposal could be bad for airports "especially in rural America."

Flight attendants, passengers upset

A major union of flight attendants vowed to "fight any measure to weaken aviation security."

"We are absolutely against removing TSA from any airport, no matter how small or large," the Association of Flight Attendants said in a statement. "TSA, together with other aviation workers, keep our skies safe. We promised to never forget after September 11."

At the Redding airport baggage claim, Allena Jones said her children fly to Los Angeles every summer.

"My children fly out of here every summer," Jones said. "If there is no security here for their protection, they would not fly out of this airport."

Another passenger, Pam Roberts, called the proposal "a bad idea," but said it would not deter her from flying.

"Oh, I probably would," she said with a laugh. "I'm an adventurous type."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 261167

Reported Deaths: 5713
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17561191
Hinds16687329
Harrison14050202
Rankin11102217
Jackson10729188
Lee9014143
Madison8495168
Jones6607114
Forrest6135122
Lauderdale6067192
Lowndes5490120
Lafayette511794
Lamar499865
Washington4904125
Bolivar4087109
Oktibbeha403581
Panola380981
Pontotoc374757
Monroe3651106
Warren3649103
Union353263
Marshall352069
Neshoba3464154
Pearl River3422105
Leflore3090109
Lincoln304287
Sunflower290373
Hancock288461
Tate279062
Alcorn270754
Pike268180
Itawamba266662
Scott256048
Yazoo253756
Prentiss251153
Copiah247649
Tippah247550
Coahoma245954
Simpson241471
Leake236167
Grenada222471
Marion220273
Covington219072
Adams212370
Wayne208432
Winston205870
George203539
Newton197346
Attala196461
Tishomingo193861
Chickasaw188444
Jasper177838
Holmes171368
Clay164237
Tallahatchie155635
Stone149525
Clarke144762
Calhoun139922
Smith127725
Yalobusha121134
Walthall114037
Greene112929
Noxubee112225
Montgomery111236
Carroll106422
Lawrence105617
Perry104031
Amite100826
Webster95424
Tunica88221
Claiborne87825
Jefferson Davis87727
Benton84823
Humphreys84224
Kemper80020
Quitman7049
Franklin69617
Choctaw62513
Wilkinson59625
Jefferson56520
Sharkey44817
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 436087

Reported Deaths: 6486
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63969994
Mobile31211565
Madison27851208
Tuscaloosa21233271
Montgomery19698326
Shelby19093130
Baldwin16981188
Lee13036105
Morgan12526134
Etowah11987179
Calhoun11441206
Marshall10357123
Houston8886158
Limestone827876
Cullman8203108
Elmore8120104
DeKalb7828103
Lauderdale7798103
St. Clair7763125
Talladega6394111
Walker6002177
Jackson594644
Colbert545276
Blount543986
Autauga532761
Coffee456762
Dale406883
Franklin372448
Russell349212
Chilton342873
Covington336068
Escambia330144
Dallas312096
Tallapoosa3120107
Chambers301170
Clarke293336
Pike261131
Marion251558
Lawrence250752
Winston232742
Bibb221248
Geneva208746
Marengo206529
Pickens199031
Hale182742
Barbour179337
Fayette177029
Butler172459
Cherokee164330
Henry158224
Monroe151320
Randolph144336
Washington140127
Clay129146
Crenshaw122944
Macon120937
Cleburne120724
Lamar119721
Lowndes113736
Wilcox106622
Bullock102228
Perry99118
Conecuh96821
Sumter90026
Greene76823
Coosa63215
Choctaw51724
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