The Transportation Security Agency, that part of the government responsible for scanning you and your luggage at the airport, is about to get its budget slashed by the House of Representatives.
The House Appropriations Committee has just released its 2015 spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security. TSA, which is housed within DHS, would see cuts to both overall funding levels and staffing under the bill.
A new House bill proposes to cut funding for TSA and reduce the number of airport screeners, a move supporters of the bill say would force TSA to apply risk-based screening methods. Scott Olson/Getty Images
The legislation funds the TSA at $4.6 billion, a cut of more than $300 million to the agency compared to current funding levels. That includes a $26.3 million cut to TSA personnel, and a $39 million cut to funding for TSA headquarters. In total, TSA would be cut more than 6 percent under the bill.
It also reduces the cap on full-time airport screeners to 45,000, from 48,000. Appropriators say that reduction would force the TSA to shift to risk-based screening.
Republicans have recently sought to reduce the total number of TSA screeners, in the hopes of eventually privatizing the job. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), for instance, has been pushing for fewer TSA screeners as a response to complaints that they are rude to travelers.
While TSA would see cuts under the bill, other parts of DHS that focus on border security would see increases. It boosts funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection by nearly $220 million, in order to maintain the record-high number of border patrol agents now in place, and increases funding for border security technology.
The bill also increases funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to fight human trafficking, child exploitation and drug smuggling. Funding for border detention programs would also increase.
Appropriators said they were happy with the balance struck in the bill, and noted that funding for DHS is much higher than what the Obama administration wanted. The White House called for a 3 percent cut to DHS, but House Republicans kept overall funding in 2015 at $39.2 billion, just $50 million less than the 2014 amount.
"This bill rejects the President's attempt to undermine our laws and uses our funds in a fiscally responsible manner by pushing for reforms within DHS, like reducing ineffectual offices and programs, and requires the President to enforce current laws as they are written not as he would like them to be," said Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), who chairs the Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on Homeland Security.
Carter's subcommittee is expected to approve the bill Wednesday.