- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Senate leaders hope to hold a vote by the end of this week on an aviation security bill that would turn the federal government into the primary employer for protecting airlines from terrorists and hijackers.
Disputes lingered yesterday over whether the bill should include aid to laid-off airline workers and money for rail security.
"They're working through some amendments but trying to move this through as soon as possible," said Andy Davis, spokesman for Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, the South Carolina Democrat who is chief sponsor of the bill.
Previously, the bill stalled in disputes over a provision that would turn the airport screeners into federal employees, rather than leaving the job to airline contractors.
Other provisions would expand the federal air marshal program, require airlines to strengthen cockpit doors against break-ins, enhance anti-hijacking training for flight crews and impose a $2.50 tax on one-way air tickets to pay for more security.
Some Republicans favored creating a government-sponsored nonprofit corporation to handle airport screening.
Rep. Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican, told Transportation Department officials that no aviation security bill would be preferable to a new federal bureaucracy.
He also said requirements of reinforced cockpit doors and air marshals on all flights could be accomplished by executive order of the president.
A deal worked out with the White House broke the deadlock with Republicans late last week when Democrats agreed to waive hiring and firing restrictions on the screeners.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, said during a televised interview on CNN Monday the dispute about federalizing the employees was largely resolved.
"There's no doubt that federalization is going to be a big part of the overall answer to what needs to be done in airports across the country," he said.
The bill also would create a new job of deputy secretary of transportation to oversee security for all transportation modes, including railroads and trucking. The Justice Department would be required to do background checks on foreign nationals seeking flight training in the United States.
Among supporters of the aviation security bill are the major airlines.
"It codifies many of the recommendations we have made," said Mike Wascom, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, the industry group representing airlines. "Airlines are in the business of transporting people and cargo. We are not in the business of law enforcement."
Current FAA regulations require airlines to hire screeners and security guards.
A second bill, introduced yesterday, would require the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that all property carried or loaded onto commercial aircraft be inspected to protect against explosives.
"We have got to have a foolproof system to prevent explosives on planes," said Rep. Jay Inslee, a Washington Democrat, who is chief sponsor of the bill.
Currently, Mr. Inslee said, airlines inspect only about 90 percent of baggage and other property carried by aircraft.
They use a profiling system to pick out items most likely to conceal explosives, he said.
Airlines avoid inspecting all property because of the costs it would create for them, he said.
"The airlines' resistance to this idea is the most penny-wise and pound-foolish thing I have ever seen," Mr. Inslee said at a press conference outside the Capitol.
He said legislation is needed to force the inspections on airlines as soon as possible because the FAA rule-making process is too slow and terrorist threats against the United States continue.
ATA officials said the primary security effort should be directed at identifying potentially dangerous passengers. A 100 percent property check might be ineffective and impractical, they said.

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