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Subcommittee Chairman Gimenez Delivers Opening Statement in TSA Hearing

June 22, 2023

Subcommittee Chairman Gimenez Delivers Opening Statement in TSA Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C.  Today, House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security Chairman Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) delivered the following opening remarks in a hearing on the Biden administration’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Fiscal Year 2024 Budget request, featuring testimony from TSA Administrator David Pekoske.

Watch the full hearing on YouTube.

Today, we will discuss the Transportation Security Administration and Fiiscal Year 2024 budget requests. But first, I would like to congratulate you on your recent confirmation for a second five-year term to lead the TSA. This committee is deeply appreciative of your willingness to continue to serve. Your testimony today comes at a time our a country and the traveling public rely on the capabilities of the TSA now more than ever.

The TSA was formed nearly two decades ago and tasked with extensive responsibilities including protecting our nation’s Aviation and Transportation Systems. As you know, the challenges and threats facing our nation’s Aviation and Transportation Systems are ever-changing and complex. During your term as a first-term TSA Administrator, you worked diligently to realign TSA’s strategic priorities and reorganize the agency to reflect the evolving mission and mission needs.

The more than 60,000 men and women of today’s TSA play a crucial role in keeping our country safe and secure. It is the responsibility of Congress to ensure that TSA and its workforce have the necessary resources to address various challenges and threats and keep Americans safe.

With that said TSA’s 2024 budget request includes $1.1 billion for pay increases for TSA workforce. While I am supportive of the TSA workforce, many Members of our committee would prefer to take a targeted approach with potential pay increases. A targeted approach would ensure that only frontline TSA personnel are getting a pay increase. Instead, TSA is proposing a pay increase across the board, including for already highly-paid senior personnel at TSA headquarters.

Last month, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security held a markup for the Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security bill. Included in that bill is a targeted pay increase for Transportation Security Officers and a total of 5.9 billion for the frontline screening workforce. This is an $856 million dollar increase above Fiscal Year 2023 to fund pay increases for TSOs, which I support. I want to emphasize the funding constraints, including TSA’s topline pay equity requests, have led to continued delays and investing in new, more effective security technology given the current fiscally constrained environment.

TSA’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget request diverts funding from key areas, such as much-needed investments in security technology. Investments in security technology such as computer tomography and Credential Authentication Technology, CAT, must remain a top priority as a cost effective, proven solution to decrease risk to the transportation system. We must also ensure that TSA is being proactive in shortening the time it takes to develop and pilot new technologies and deploying them in the field.

TSA’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget request includes only $70 million to procure additional CT systems. This is significantly less than the amount that was appropriated in Fiscal Year 2023. Under TSA’s Fiscal Year 2024 request, and based on past, present, and current projected funding, TSA will not meet full operational capability for CT machines until Fiscal Year 2042. It goes without saying that’s a little bit slow. Fortunately, the House Appropriations Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security bill includes $105.4 million for CT systems, which makes up to $30 million shortfall from TSA’s budget requests.