According to TSA sources, the agency will not be ending security screenings at 150 smaller airports. CNN had reported that the TSA had considered cutting back on security for the 2020 budget. The cuts, however, were only contemplated as a worst-case scenario.
According to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, "TSA will not be eliminating passenger screening at any federalized U.S. airport as suggested in recent media reports." "Reporting on pre-decisional budget exercises is misleading as it doesn't reflect the entire process, and certainly doesn't take into account the dedicated TSA professionals who work tirelessly to assess impact, risk, and feasibility of different scenarios.”
“We remain committed to our mission to protect the Homeland by improving security, safeguarding our transportation system, and ensuring that over 2.5 million airline passengers get to their destinations safely every day," he added.
TSA officials were annoyed that the reports had circulated, believing that the information was leaked by staffers who were looking to make the administration look bad.
CNN had reported that the agency was considering halting security screenings of passengers at smaller airports to focus increasing security at larger airports. According to the report, 150 airports that serve planes with fewer than 60 seats would be cutting back on security in an effort to save $115 million a year.
When the report was released, the TSA responded that no decision had been made, saying that changes "to better allocate limited taxpayer resources" would follow "a risk assessment to ensure the security of the aviation system."
The report angered members of Congress and startled aviation-security experts, who feared smaller flights would be targeted for terrorist attacks. Under the Trump administration, the TSA has introduced new procedures to enable screeners to scan laptops and tablets that may contain bombs more clearly.
In April, Pekoske stated, “I am committed to continue raising the baseline for aviation security, and these enhanced screening measures enable TSA officers to better screen for threats to passengers and aircrew while maintaining efficiency at checkpoints throughout the U.S. Our security efforts remain focused on always staying ahead of those trying to do us harm and ensuring travelers get to their destination safely.”
This is not the first time the TSA has backtracked on changes. In 2013, the agency halted a plan that would allow passengers to carry small knives — something that was permitted before 9/11 — after the public and flight attendants protested.