Passengers who leave their change at airport security checkpoints may not know they're doing it, but they're actually giving the TSA all of that money — and it amounts to about half a million dollars a year.
Under existing federal law, the Transportation Security Administration is allowed to keep all of the loose change that ends up getting left in those plastic bins at their scanning machines.
Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, wants to change that and force TSA to turn the money over to nonprofit agencies that provide travel assistance to military troops and their families.
The bill has earned bipartisan backing, and cleared the House Homeland Security Committee late last month.
"According to TSA, airline passengers have left behind about $500,000 at airport security checkpoints in each of the past two fiscal years," the Congressional Budget Office said in a memo Friday evaluating Mr. Miller's legislation.
Mr. Miller said there are places he'd rather see the money go than to TSA.
"The TSA has been keeping the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters from your change purse to pay for their bloated bureaucracy," Mr. Miller said. "If TSA representatives get to play 'finders keepers' with your hard-earned cash, what's the incentive to try to get the loose change to its rightful owners?"
TSA didn't respond to a request for comment. The agency has a policy of generally not commenting on pending legislation.
The agency has come under fire for its security procedures, and some veterans and military groups have complained that troops have been subjected to intrusive scrutiny — particularly those who have been wounded.
Last week, the agency defended its behavioral profiling program, which is separate from its regular security screening. Under the profiling program, 3,000 officers have been deployed to airports to try to spot passengers who are nervous or who show other signs that the TSA said could be indicative of potential terrorist activity.
A government watchdog report reviewed the research and said there is no evidence the officers do any better than random chance in identifying potential terrorists.
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