News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement after voting against the Thune-Nelson Amendment (S.AMDT.3512) to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016 (H.R. 636).


“While I strongly support the bipartisan airport security provisions in Thune-Nelson, I voted against the overall amendment because I have some serious concerns about one very specific element that I believe would unfairly impact too many workers and families without making us any safer. Although I am disappointed that this one damaging provision was included, I will continue to work with my colleagues to pass the vast majority of the provisions in this amendment that would make our airports more secure and truly protect us from terrorists.  


“I am very glad that this amendment takes a number of important bipartisan steps to improve airport security. Specifically, I am pleased at the progress it makes in expanding the use of inspections and performance metrics in assessing the effectiveness of the badges used at airports, directing the TSA to address the threats posed by individuals with unescorted access to secure areas of airports, and expanding oversight over airports facing problems with missing secure badges. These are common-sense steps that would keep our airports and families safer, and I am hopeful we can get them done.


“However, I voted against this amendment because it included what I believe is a damaging provision that would forbid airports from employing anyone, for any job inside the badged area of the airport, who committed even relatively minor infractions as far back as fifteen years ago. In other words, under this provision, if someone was convicted of marijuana possession or stealing a bike when they were in high school, even if they served no jail time—they would be unable to work at the Starbucks by the gate even as late as their 30s, and current workers who have worked hard in their position for a decade or more would be subject to dismissal for mistakes they made as a teenager. Security should be our highest priority, and I believe there is a long list of crimes that someone could commit that should block them from ever working in an airport again—but I am very confident that we can improve our security and protect our families without going as far as this provision does, and without hurting nonviolent workers who love their country and want to work hard to put food on the table for their families. I believe this provision would have an especially negative and discriminatory impact on the most vulnerable workers who are trying to work their way out of poverty, it wouldn’t make us safer, and I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do.


“There is no more important work we can do in Congress than improving security and preventing terrorism, and I am hopeful that we can continue working together on policies that truly make us safer—like the vast majority of provisions in this amendment.”