(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Sen. Patty Murray announced tonight that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will provide $159 million over the next four years to improve passenger and baggage screening at Sea-Tac airport. A “letter of intent” between the TSA and Sea-Tac will be signed within the next 24-48 hours committing the federal government to provide the desperately-needed security funding.
Murray, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, wrote legislation in the last two Congressional spending bills directing the TSA to provide a significant funding commitment to Sea-Tac.
Murray also wrote the legislation authorizing the TSA to enter into multi-year funding commitments to address the security needs of airports like Sea-Tac. Prior to Murray’s legislation, the TSA could only make single-year grants.
The federal funding will enable Sea-Tac to move the baggage screening equipment out of the overcrowded main terminal, and allow passengers to leave their checked bags with airline personnel when they check in.
New screening equipment will be purchased and installed in the new South Terminal Expansion Project (STEP) currently under construction at the airport. Also, federal funds will improve screening infrastructure at the North Satellite Terminal, Gate C-1 and the Central Terminal.
While the TSA funding commitment is expected to improve the flow of passengers and baggage in the long term, Senator Murray emphasized in a phone conversation with TSA Administrator James Loy this afternoon that the TSA must take immediate action to address the lengthy delays passengers have been experiencing recently at Sea-Tac.
Senator Murray’s discussion with Adm. Loy this afternoon followed up on a letter she sent to him yesterday urging his personal and immediate attention to the unacceptable lines at Sea-Tac.
During today’s conversation, Admiral Loy committed to hiring more part-time screeners and to relocating a mobile screening unit currently deployed in Portland, Oregon to help handle the load on a temporary basis.
Senator Murray said, “Passengers are beginning to return to the skies, but the long lines and hassles could undermine this progress. I am proud to say that help is on the way. This federal support is good news for the passengers and the airlines who use Sea-Tac airport.
Mic Dinsore, CEO of Port of Seattle, praised Murray’s efforts.
“Once again we are tremendously fortunate to have our senior Senator Patty Murray do extraordinary things for our region,” said Dinsmore. “Her ability to secure this funding for upgrading security at Sea-Tac will allow passengers and baggage to move more swiftly and safely through our terminals.”