House Approves Bipartisan Swalwell-Fitzpatrick Amendment to Improve Airport Perimeter Security

September 7, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – The House late Wednesday night adopted a bipartisan amendment offered by Reps. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) to put $10 million toward studying improvements to airport perimeter security in Fiscal Year 2018.

The Swalwell-Fitzpatrick amendment to the Homeland Security section of H.R. 3354, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, would provide these funds to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to pay for research, analysis, and testing of airport perimeter intrusion technology.

The Associated Press reported in May 2016 that “an intruder broke through the security surrounding one of 31 major U.S. airports on average every 13 days from the beginning of 2004 through mid-February [2016].”

“Since serving on the Homeland Security Committee during my first term, I’ve always believed we must update our thinking about how we protect our airports to keep Americans safer in the air,” Swalwell said. “Many airports are large, with vast spaces to monitor, and we just don’t have the personnel to watch every inch of perimeter. Technology such as cameras and ground radar can serve as a force multiplier, letting us know when a breach happens anywhere, at any time, and help us catch intruders before they can do harm.”

“The threats facing our nation are as diverse as ever and, as such, we must take action to protect our homeland on every front,” Fitzpatrick said. “Ensuring airport perimeter security through new research and technology is a vital piece of our security efforts. I’m grateful for the bipartisan work of Rep. Swalwell and this Congress in working to protect our airports.”

The amendment provides funding only for research and testing, either by the TSA itself or under a contract between the TSA and an outside entity; airports retain responsibility for maintaining their own perimeter security. The spending is offset by a reduction in the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Secretary and Executive Management account.

After a series of perimeter breaches at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, Swalwell urged the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2014 to issue an updated assessment of our nation’s airport perimeter security needs; the last such report had been issued in 2009. A new GAO report issued in 2016 found TSA needed to update its national strategy.

Also, Swalwell in 2015 joined Reps. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Mike Honda (CA-17), and Anna Eshoo (CA-18) in writing to Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael P. Huerta in support of increased funding for perimeter security. Mineta San Jose International Airport later that year was awarded more than $3.4 million in federal funding to for taller and more secure perimeter fences; the airport was awarded another $8.1 million in 2016 for design, purchase and installation of surveillance technologies for targeted areas inside the perimeter fence line.