Chairwoman Roybal-Allard Statement at Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Transportation Security Administration Hearing

2022-05-18 09:59

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Transportation Security Administration:

“I would like to welcome Administrator Pekoske to today’s hearing. You have appeared many times before this Subcommittee to discuss the importance of TSA’s mission and its dedicated front-line workforce. The pandemic has taken a toll on TSA and changed the way the Agency operates, as it has for the rest of the federal government and the country as whole.

I look forward to today’s discussion of the President’s Budget Request for TSA, and in particular the need to reform TSA’s pay structure and provide protections for employees which are equivalent to the rest of the federal workforce. We have spoken about the value of these reforms and the importance of implementing them as soon as possible. These are reforms which I fully support. The challenge of transitioning TSA personnel at the start of 2023 – to a new pay system where they will be treated like the rest of the federal workforce – would cost nearly $1 billion. 

Unfortunately, the Administration did the Subcommittee no favors in how this was proposed in the budget. Rather than directly funding the new pay structure, the President’s Budget proposes a change to existing law to make more resources available to TSA from the security fees charged to airline passengers.

Currently, a portion of those fees are diverted to the Treasury for deficit reduction.  I support ending the diversion of those fees, but unfortunately, changing existing law is not within this subcommittee’s jurisdiction. As a result, the Administration has given the subcommittee a bill we may not be able to afford within our funding allocation. While it will be a challenge, I feel strongly about this, so the subcommittee will do its best to meet the challenge in our upcoming bill. I would also like to briefly discuss a troubling incident which was brought to my attention. Last week, I was contacted by a passenger at LAX who at a security checkpoint, was denied the ability to take onto the airplane supplies she needed for breastfeeding notwithstanding that TSA’s policies appear to permit it.

While at this time you may not be able to comment on this matter, I do appreciate your immediate attention to this serious matter, and I expect it will be addressed in a way that will prevent it from happening again. Administrator Pekoske, your current term as TSA Administrator was ending this summer when we first planned this hearing, I had presumed this would be your last appearance before the Subcommittee. So, I was very pleased when President Biden announced earlier this month, he would be nominating you for a second term. You have my full support and I hope the Senate will promptly take up your nomination.”

117th Congress