Murray Laments Administration-Forced Cuts in TSA Budget, Concerned about Magaw Resignation

Jul 18 2002

Conferees forced to accept OMB-mandated funding $550 million below Bush Administration's original TSA request; Mr. Magaw's resignation is not surprising

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Because of a Presidential veto threat and ongoing pressure from OMB, a House-Senate conference committee has approved an Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill that provides $550 million less that the Administration originally requested for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The Administration originally requested $4.4 billion for TSA in the Emergency Supplemental bill. While the Senate Appropriations Committee fully funded the President's request, the House cut TSA's requested funding by $550 million.

On the eve of a House-Senate conference committee meeting on the Supplemental last Thursday, during which conferees were set to approve funding well above the House level, representatives of the White House Office of Management and Budget demanded that TSA receive the lower, House-passed level of $3.85 billion.

Sen. Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, expressed concerns that TSA might not be able to meet its December 31st deadline to screen all checked bags for explosives by the end of the year. She was similarly concerned about passengers enduring unacceptably long waits at airports due to a lack of screeners. Both concerns were exacerbated by the Administration's reduced support for adequate TSA funding.

"While Congress has conceded to the White House demands to cut TSA funding, I am concerned that the agency will not be able to meet the deadlines for upgrading security at America's airports," Murray said. "Congress is putting great faith in the President to make good on his promise to upgrade airport security by the end of the year, but that faith is being severely tested by the President's own Budget Director insisting on TSA funding cuts."

Murray was also concerned about the sudden resignation of TSA director John Magaw. The timing of Magaw's resignation, immediately after the TSA funding cuts became known, is curious.

"Mr. Magaw's resignation is not surprising," said Murray. "The TSA has experienced setbacks in trying to secure the nation's air transportation system. And the TSA's challenges are compounded by OMB efforts to cut its funding."