Lesko Opening Statement at TSA Modernization Act Implementation Hearing

WASHINGTON – Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee ranking member, today delivered the following opening statement at a hearing entitled, “One Year Later:  Implementation of the TSA Modernization Act”.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I am pleased that the Subcommittee is meeting today to oversee implementation of last year’s bipartisan reauthorization of the Transportation Security Administration, the TSA Modernization Act.  Terrorists continue to target both surface and aviation transportation in ways that are constantly evolving.  The TSA Modernization Act recognizes this reality and provides direction to the agency at a critical time. 

Importantly, this legislation marks the first-ever reauthorization of TSA since the agency was created in 2001, following the terror attacks of September 11th.  In so doing, Congress fulfilled its Constitutional role to provide oversight, accountability, and direction to the federal government and the resources appropriated to protect the traveling public.

The TSA Modernization Act took measurable steps to update many offices and programs within TSA and make the agency more prepared for current and evolving threats to transportation security.  Some of these provisions included the establishment of a five-year term for the TSA Administrator, authorizing the use of third-party explosive detection canines for passenger and cargo screening, providing additional resources and support to the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, and outlining new enrollment objectives for TSA PreCheck.

Now, a little more than one year after enactment, it is prudent for our Subcommittee to echo the bicameral bipartisanship that facilitated the passage of this landmark legislation as we examine how effectively TSA has worked to implement the law. 

I commend Administrator Pekoske, who is currently serving doubly as the Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, for working closely with Congress on this legislation last year and for his team’s dedication to providing regular briefings to the relevant Committees on implementation status.  This work, along with Congressional oversight, has resulted in 87% of the law’s required actions for TSA being either successfully completed or on track for successful completion in a timely manner. 

For many of these provisions, GAO serves as the Committee’s watchdog on implementation in its review of TSA programs, offices, and security mitigation efforts, so I am pleased that they are represented here today.

I look forward to hearing from TSA and GAO today on the status of outstanding provisions in the law, as well as what the agency has accomplished over the last year in fulfilling its statutory requirements.  Thank you, and I yield back the balance of my time.

 

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