Defense & National Security

Rand Paul pushes airport security privatization bill

Rand Paul pushes airport security privatization bill

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said there is “great bipartisan support” for his bill to privatize airport security across the country as he discussed the legislation at a roundtable event with about two dozen small business owners, policy experts and others in the Capitol Visitor’s Center Wednesday afternoon.

Paul drew headlines when he was detained by a Transportation Security Administration agent at the airport in Nashville, Tenn. in January. News spread quickly after the senator’s father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) tweeted that his son was being “detained by the TSA for refusing a full body pat-down.”

Sen. Paul said his own experience resonated with his colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle. “To a person, every Democrat said hello to me” after the incident, he said. “They said, ‘We’ve got to do something about the TSA.’”

The bill, S. 3303, would force the federal government to largely step down from the business of airport security and would “require that screening of passengers at airports be conducted by employees of a private screening company,” according to a legislation summary obtained by Human Events.

The idea behind Paul’s proposal to relegate the TSA to “simple security oversight” is that private industry can complete the job of airport security more completely and efficiently than a government agency.

The TSA has previously conducted two studies finding that private screeners were 17.4 and 3 percent more expensive than the current system, but the Government Accountability Office has challenged the methodologies and factors considered in each report.

Paul agreed with the roundtable members that at the very least, the introduction of a frequent flyer system, in which travelers could be fast-passed based on their established low threat to security, is a necessary improvement on the status quo.

“My point all along has been we’re less safe by treating everyone equally as a terrorist,” he said.

The roundtable was hosted by the Business Coalition for Fair Competition. Attendees discussed other issues of the government competing with private enterprise as well as potential legislation to limit the allowed travel expenditures of lobbyists. The main focus of the meeting stayed on getting the bill out of committee, where it is now, and onto the Senate floor.

Paul said that after all the letters he has received from constituents about the TSA and commiseration with his colleagues, he’s confident about the outcome.

“All you have to do is be a frequent traveler and you’re in favor of doing something about the TSA,” he said. “I think the bill could pass.”

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