On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) I urge you to oppose S. 3730, the Registered Traveler Act of 2020. This legislation dangerously expands the existing Registered Traveler (RT) program to allow private entities to perform security functions without proper oversight and accountability. This bill as written is opposed by both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union that represents transportation security officers, and should be rejected by the Senate Commerce Committee during markup.
The current RT program allows a private entity to confirm passenger identities as a paid service to bypass regular TSA security lines. As noted by TSA in a letter to the Commerce Committee opposing S. 3730, there has only been one RT provider for the past several years, and this provider offers its services under contract with specific air carriers or airports. In every case, TSA is still responsible for “the inherently governmental functions” of security screening operations. As opposed to a trusted traveler program such as Global Entry, and TSA PreCheck, the RT system does not provide for any advanced background checks or screening for passengers. As such, RT programs are simply a way for passengers to pay a fee to skip a line. In fact, TSA noted that there are already passenger data security risks with the existing RT program.
Rather than addressing the existing problems with the RT program, S. 3730 entrusts RT providers with genuine security responsibilities. It would allow RT employees to determine what, if any, additional security screening should be required for passengers. Introducing this type of reform to the RT program is particularly problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic. As essential workers, TSOs are already at greater risk of contracting the virus as they continue to perform screening operations throughout the country. In order to maintain the safest possible environment for TSOs and passengers alike, screening operations need to be standardized and streamlined. The changes proposed by S. 3730 would introduce a needless complication to existing operations by giving private, for-profit companies a role in determining how screening should be conducted.
Congress should be laser-focused on passing legislation that provides a safe and secure operating environment for the passenger aviation system. S. 3730 fails in this regard. It both jeopardizes security and introduces unnecessary complications to an already strained system. I urge you to vote no on this bill.
Larry I. Willis