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New GA Caucus Proves Effective

Caucus, GA-backed amendment included in final TSA funding bill

June 10, 2009 —The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Authorization Act (H.R.2200) on June 4, including a GA-friendly amendment aimed at reining in TSA policymaking-by-decree practices like the controversial Security Directive 08F. That directive required background checks and badges for general aviation pilots and aircraft owners operating at airports with any form of commercial service. The final vote came following an exhaustive and united advocacy effort by numerous general aviation groups and the newly formed Congressional General Aviation Caucus.

The amendment, which passed 219-211, clarifies the conditions under which the TSA would be authorized to order security directives. H.R.2200 (at this writing no legislation had been introduced in the Senate) allows TSA to use emergency procedures to bypass the rulemaking process required by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) only in cases of imminent security threats of a finite duration. Otherwise, the rulemaking process must be followed, allowing an opportunity for public input.

H.R.2200 authorizes TSA programs and funding levels through 2012. Among the provisions is formation of a general aviation security working group to ensure industry stakeholders have input on new security initiatives. Also in the legislation is a grant program for $10 million in security improvements at GA airports.

The amendment was sponsored by caucus members John Mica (R-Fla.) and Allen Boyd (D-FL), and co-sponsored by Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Sam Graves (R-MO), and Thomas Petri (R-WI). EAA, AOPA, GAMA, NATA, NBAA, and Airports Council International (ACI) also worked together to support it.

"Because of the ongoing emphasis on homeland security issues, we had to provide education and, ultimately, overcome several House members' predisposition to support our national security agencies on all matters, regardless of impact," said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government affairs. "We had to show that this amendment would not hamstring any security efforts. Rather, it allows TSA to continue to mitigate security risks while reinforcing the Administration's pledge of transparency and public review of governmental policymaking, whenever possible."

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