WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) – Recently confirmed Transportation Security Administrator David Pekoske appeared before the House Homeland Security Committee Tuesday to discuss the agency’s efforts to keep the nation’s transportation systems safe.
The TSA is responsible for more than 60,000 employees and approximately 440 airports nationwide, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Of those employees, nearly 44,000 act as transportation security officers for aviation and surface transportation services.
Before the start of the hearing, lawmakers serving on the committee met for a closed-door confidential briefing with the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general. While the details of that briefing were not discussed during the hearing, Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, did admit that specific vulnerabilities pertaining to the nation’s aviation security were mentioned. He called the information he received about that threat “disturbing.” His colleagues on both sides of the aisle agreed.
Lawmakers urged Pekoske, who has only been in office three months, to accelerate plans to implement new baggage screening technology, improve employee morale, reduce employee attrition rates, strengthen leadership and increase screening for cargo planes as well as ground transportation.
“If we are going to be successful in keeping our homeland safe, we must make sure TSA has the tools and resources it needs to carry out its mission,” McCaul said.
Ranking Member Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., called on President Donald Trump’s Administration to invest more in security innovation rather than the border wall.
“To address these threats the Trump administration must invest innovation security to strengthen TSA effectiveness,” Thompson said. “Instead the administration seems hell-bent on squandering billions on a boondoggle border wall that would do nothing to make the nation more secure.”
Thompson also suggested that the agency should travel to other airports successfully using computed tomography, also known as CT scans, for both checked and carry-on luggage. He advised that drawing inspiration from other successful programs could help expedite the implementation of this technology within the United States. Currently, The TSA scans roughly 4.9 million carry-on bags per day, but CT scans are principally used for checked baggage.
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