A $7.9 billion TSA budget that would expedite the procurement of more effective imaging technology in FY2020 was approved by the House Appropriations Committee on June 11, paving the way for a full floor vote in coming weeks.

The budget proposal would provide roughly $279 million more than the 2019 enacted level and $581 million more than the administration’s request.

The Appropriations Committee is requesting $176 million to accelerate the procurement and installation of computed tomography (CT) screening equipment, an increase of $28 million from the administration’s request, and a level that will enable TSA to deploy approximately 365 CT systems at airport checkpoints nationwide in FY2020.

It also seeks $20 million for TSA to continue reimbursement of airports that incurred costs associated with the development of legacy in-line explosive detection systems. Provisions in the bill direct the deployment of explosive detection systems based on risk and other factors, and authorize TSA to use funds from the Aviation Security Capital Fund for the procurement and installation of the systems.

In the report attached to the bill, the appropriators expressed concern that TSA’s canine program “may be insufficiently resourced to provide coverage,” and encouraged the Department of Homeland Security, which houses TSA, to expand collaboration with third-parties to further develop canine capabilities, with a specific focus on person-borne-IED detection canines.

The lawmakers called on TSA to apply additional security measures for international outbound and domestic postal shipments by air, and directed the agency to provide a briefing on the current threat picture related to carriage of USPS mail and parcels along aircraft, as well as any security measures currently under consideration and the projected impacts of such measures on the private sector.

The committee also requested an update on the implementation of efforts underway to consolidate airport emergency communications, law enforcement, aircraft rescue operations and firefighting operations into a single operations center within each airport’s campus. The lawmakers said that initiative is “particularly important for airports serving a civil-military purpose, which face a heightened risk of terrorist acts.”

The bill would make available $59 million to sustain the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams, as well as $45 million for the Local Law Enforcement Reimbursement Program and $82 million for TSA staffing of exit lanes. It also provides for employee pay increases in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

Ben Goldstein, ben.goldstein@aviationweek.com