TSA administrator John S. Pistole said Wednesday that his agency is working closely with the FAA to coordinate efforts in the event budget cuts tied to sequestration lead to flight delays and long security lines.
Testifying before the House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Pistole said the greatest impact of the cuts may be felt during the spring break and summer travels seasons when airports are busiest. The TSA cuts would include the elimination of overtime, which Pistole said will limit the agency’s ability to maintain staffing levels when passenger traffic builds.
“The longer it goes the greater the potential impact,” he said.
Sequestration was not the focus of Wednesday’s hearing, which was convened to examine TSA’s Risk-Based Security efforts, but with the mandatory cuts expected to take effect on Friday, the topic was impossible to avoid.
“Our focus today is not the looming sequester,” said Rep. John Carter, (R-Texas) subcommittee chair during the opening minutes of the hearing. “But I understand it is the elephant in the room.”
Democrats on the panel expressed concern about the impact the cuts would have on the economy and the traveling public — a message that the White House has been pushing hard on for the last several days.
Pistole said his agency is working on a plan to implement cuts, adding that they would be spread equally among the nation’s airports.