A proposal by Senate Republican to provide an additional stimulus package to help sustain the economy during the ongoing pandemic recommends $3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, including funding for new technology for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and additional monies for cyber security to protect vaccine development.
The proposal, released late Monday afternoon by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), seeks $208 million for TSA for enhanced cleaning and technology investments to reduce contact with travelers.
Touchless travel has become the new buzzword in the air travel industry with the aim to minimize customer contact with as many people and systems as possible between the curb outside an airport to the gate prior to entering the jetway.
Of the funding for TSA, $88 million from the operations and support account would be for checkpoint cleaning and sanitization and $50 million is for buying and installing additional credential authentication technology (CAT) systems, which aid the agency’s Travel Document Checker in verifying the identity of an individual and their flight status. IDEMIA is the contractor for CAT.
The bill would provide $70 million for TSA’s procurement account for the acquisition and installation of computed tomography (CT)-based technologies. The bill doesn’t specify if the CT procurement is for checkpoint or checked baggage applications.
Checkpoint CT technology, currently being supplied by Smiths Detection, allows passengers to leave their personal electronic devices inside their bags and provides operators with better images of a bag’s contents, which ultimately means less manhandling by TSA agents of carry-on items.
The bill would also provide $53 million for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to mitigate vulnerabilities on federal networks due to increased cyber-attacks on agencies involved in development of vaccines for COVID-19.
The Secret Service would receive $73 million for enhanced security screening and inspection equipment to safely screen individuals entering secure facilities.
Customs and Border Protection would receive $1.6 billion to make up for revenue shortfalls related to reduced fees being collected. The Federal Emergency Management Agency would receive close to $1.1 billion for grants and to improve disaster response, and Citizenship and Immigration Services would get $1.2 billion in loan authority to borrow from the Treasury Department to make up for a revenue shortfall.