U.S. Senator Mark Begich is objecting to a proposed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rule that would significantly increase fees for airline passengers and, in some cases, could add more than $20 per trip for Alaskans.
In a letter sent last week to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and TSA Administrator John Pistole, Begich stated:
“I strongly oppose this change which would severely impact Alaskans traveling to and from my state, especially those flying to rural areas. Many Alaskans live in some of the most remote communities in this country and must rely on multiple legs of air travel for health care, to purchase basic necessities and tend to their personal finances. Imposing these uncapped fees will be a severe financial burden for those who already pay some of America’s highest prices for energy and transportation.”
In his letter, Begich noted that the proposed increase is based upon a flawed interpretation of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and lacked a deliberative process to allow public comments. Currently, the passenger fee is assessed at a rate of $2.50 per enplanement, with one-way trip fees capped at $5 and round-trips at $10.
“This misguided proposal will dramatically increase costs for air travel for many Alaskans and I am urging the TSA to reconsider this rule change,” said Begich. “The fact that this change is being proposed without any opportunity for public or congressional comment is just adding insult to injury.”
Senator Begich sits on the committees of jurisdiction on both the authorizing and appropriations process. Begich is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; as well the Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee.