WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) lauded the passage of HR 1817, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Authorization Act for fiscal year 2006. The DHS authorization passed recently by the U.S. House of Representatives includes a provision preventing an increase to the air travel security fee in order to pay for the programs outlined in the bill. The NBTA is urging the Senate to keep that provision in the final bill.
"The National Business Travel Association has been vocal in its opposition to increasing the air travel security fee, and we are pleased to see our advocacy has made an impact," said NBTA President and CEO Carol Devine. "The proposed increase would have cost American businesses more than $400 million each year. Keeping the air security fee at its current level means businesses can continue to spend that money on flights, hotels, car rentals, chauffeured transportation, meals and other travel expenses. Those expenditures benefit local economies across the country, support business and commercial activity at all levels and generate tax revenue. This vote is a victory for America’s national interest, and everyone wins."
The provision preventing a hike in the security tax was passed as an amendment to the bill, with 363 Members of Congress voting for the amendment, 65 voting against and five not voting. On behalf of its members, the NBTA thanked all Members of the House who supported the amendment. Special thanks went out to Congresswoman Hooley (D-OR), who introduced the amendment, and to two Members who spoke at the NBTA Legislative Summit on this and other business travel issues on the same day the bill passed: Tom Davis (R-VA) and Tim Holden (D-PA).
The House bill also includes language requiring the DHS to create a plan within 180 days of passage of the bill to reduce wait times at security screening checkpoints to no more than 20 minutes.
The following provisions also included in the authorization bill may have an impact on business travel and business travelers:
· The DHS must establish single process security screening and background checks for the NEXUS, SENTRI and Registered Traveler Programs, including single submission by applicants of personal and biometric data, the ability to submit data to any of the approved programs and established privacy standards.
· The DHS must create at least four remote enrollment centers for the NEXUS, FAST and SENTRI programs in population centers where there is demand for such a service.
· NEXUS Air and NEXUS Land are to be merged into a single program.
· The time requirement for passengers on commercial flights arriving at and departing from Washington Reagan National Airport to remain seated will be reduced to 15 minutes (from the current 30 minutes) after takeoff from and before touchdown at that airport.