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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 9:10 AM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 9:10 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."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 657037

Reported Deaths: 12450
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion901321624
Lake48105871
Allen35552632
Hamilton31839393
St. Joseph29538510
Elkhart25261412
Vanderburgh21115377
Tippecanoe19765197
Johnson16242352
Porter15838267
Hendricks15723296
Clark11843179
Madison11672314
Vigo11503228
Monroe10248158
Delaware9788178
LaPorte9720194
Howard9017194
Kosciusko8514107
Bartholomew7373147
Warrick7369146
Hancock7362128
Floyd7139164
Wayne6586188
Grant6395157
Morgan6040124
Boone603388
Dubois5868111
Dearborn540266
Henry539492
Marshall5390104
Cass537199
Noble506775
Jackson462063
Shelby458490
Lawrence4154111
Gibson399681
Harrison395160
Clinton392353
DeKalb382078
Montgomery381583
Knox354484
Miami354063
Whitley346235
Huntington338176
Steuben335955
Wabash328775
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White295351
Jefferson292770
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Greene259978
Posey259731
Wells255374
Scott248446
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Randolph225076
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Jennings213544
Washington207727
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Owen181652
Jay177328
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 958153

Reported Deaths: 16968
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1109381191
Cuyahoga944201702
Hamilton72486944
Montgomery46927869
Summit39637941
Butler35004461
Lucas34724755
Stark29011826
Warren22137269
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Lake18178300
Clermont18172206
Delaware16261128
Licking14820194
Fairfield14378157
Trumbull14136454
Greene13470209
Medina13188218
Clark12121332
Wood11384193
Portage10829152
Allen10710231
Richland10165198
Miami9937179
Columbiana8049179
Muskingum8036123
Tuscarawas7974233
Pickaway795898
Marion7936134
Wayne7791216
Erie6783181
Ross6065135
Geauga5978129
Hancock5941110
Scioto5867105
Ashtabula5811140
Lawrence519073
Union505052
Darke5006122
Belmont484787
Sandusky472393
Jefferson4709107
Huron4701116
Seneca4620103
Athens456231
Mercer4559101
Auglaize453896
Washington451286
Shelby438867
Knox397884
Putnam3964101
Madison388747
Ashland374594
Fulton374364
Defiance3670101
Brown366742
Crawford354296
Preble350570
Logan349757
Clinton336162
Highland323652
Ottawa318467
Williams299578
Jackson287056
Guernsey283234
Champaign282545
Fayette265642
Perry265239
Morrow256624
Henry242665
Hardin241856
Holmes2416104
Coshocton230246
Van Wert227749
Gallia219446
Adams213732
Pike212025
Wyandot207652
Hocking192148
Carroll178828
Paulding158423
Meigs133536
Noble127842
Monroe114936
Harrison99132
Morgan98834
Vinton76215
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