Three airport security programs axed under Trump budget

Three airport security programs axed under Trump budget
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Three airport security programs implemented after the 9/11 terrorist attacks would get the ax under President Trump’s budget proposal.

The spending blueprint, released early Thursday, “eliminates and reduces unauthorized and underperforming programs administered by [the Transportation Security Administration] TSA in order to strengthen screening at airport security checkpoints.”

The estimated savings would total $80 million annually, according to the proposal.

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The budget would reduce the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response program. These "VIPR" teams sweep transit hubs, often using bomb-sniffing dogs, and are designed to serve as a visible security presence around airports, train stations and ports.

Lawmakers increased the number of VIPR teams in an aviation bill last year to beef up aviation security following the bombing of an airport in Brussels.

But Trump’s proposal says the program “achieves few Federal law enforcement priorities.”

Also on the chopping block is the controversial Behavior Detection Officer program, which has not been scientifically validated by the agency. The Government Accountability Office recommended limiting funding for the program in 2013.

The budget would instead reassign all of those personnel to front-line airport security operations.

“Such efforts refocus TSA on its core mission of protecting travelers and ensuring Federal security standards are enforced throughout the transportation system,” the proposal says.

Trump’s budget also would eliminate TSA grants to state and local jurisdictions that patrol airports, arguing that doing so would “incentivize local law enforcement patrols that should already be a high priority for state and local partners.”

Overall, the Homeland Security Department budget would receive a 6.8 percent bump, to $44 billion, under Trump’s proposal. The TSA’s passenger security fee, meanwhile, would be raised in order “to recover 75 percent of the cost of TSA aviation security operations.”