Legislative Activity

Lawmakers Continue Focus on TSA Wait Times, While House Spending Panel Approves TSA Funding for FY 2017

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security approved its draft FY 2017 appropriations measure on Thursday, June 9, including $7.6 billion for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), $163 million more than in FY 2016 and $21.8 million greater than the Obama Administration’s FY 2017 budget request.  The full committee markup will follow on Tuesday, June 14. The House Appropriations Committee has yet to approve a request from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for an additional $28 million to help keep airport security lines under control during the ongoing summer travel season.  The Senate Appropriations Committee, which has already approved of its FY 2017 homeland security spending measure increasing funds for TSA, has also signed off on the reallocated funds, the second such request from DHS this year.

On June 7, the House of Representatives approved legislation, the Checkpoint Optimization and Efficiency Act of 2016 (H.R. 5338), aimed at shortening TSA wait times.  The measure would direct both the TSA Administrator and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review TSA’s staffing allocation model.  The Act also requires the TSA Administrator to take a number of actions related to the agency’s staffing and resource allocation.  Across the Capitol, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger testified before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing last week, where lawmakers encouraged the agency to increase access to PreCheck, an expedited security screening program.

Author’s Note: The House Appropriations Committee markup has been delayed until June 22 as Members receive briefings following the Orlando shooting.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, June 14: The House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security will hold a hearing titled “Overstaying Their Welcome: National Security Risks Posed by Visa Overstays.”
  • Wednesday, June 15: The Senate Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing titled “America’s Insatiable Demand for Drugs: Examining Alternative Approaches.”
  • Thursday, June 16: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a meeting to consider pending legislation and nominations.

Executive Branch Activity

Government Officials React to Deadliest Shooting in US History, Worst Terror Attack Since 9/11

President Barack Obama, senior Administration officials, and lawmakers reacted to the shooting at a crowded Orlando nightclub filled with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.  As of Sunday night, the shooting, which ended with police storming the club after a three-hour stand-off, had left 50 dead and at least 53 injured.  Reports indicated the alleged shooter had pledged allegiance to ISIS, making it the United States’ worst terror attack since September 11, 2001, and the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history.

President Obama delivered remarks from the White House early in the day, confirming he had met with his homeland security and national security advisors and assuring Americans that he has “directed that the full resources of the federal government be made available for this investigation.”  Congressman Mike McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, offered thoughts and prayers for the victims and thanked local law enforcement for their efforts responding to the attack, calling it “a sobering reminder that radical Islamists are targeting our country and our way of life.”  Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, echoed his House colleague, confirming that his committee “will work to support the federal role in investigating this terror attack and protecting against further threats.”  Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson stated that senior agency officials “are dedicated to investigating this tragedy, along with the FBI and our state and local partners, and supporting the Orlando community in the tragedy’s aftermath.”  Secretary Johnson canceled planned travel to Beijing in light of the attack.