April 21, 2016 -
The U.S. Senate passed a long-term FAA reauthorization bill on Tuesday, without an amendment proposed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to speed up the adoption of a biometric entry-exit system at U.S. airports.
Sessions’ amendment would have provided that no funds from the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act be obligated “for the physical modification of any existing air navigation facility that is a port of entry, or for the construction of a new air navigation facility intended to be a port of entry, unless the Secretary of Homeland Security certifies that the owner or sponsor of the facility has entered into an agreement that guarantees the installation and implementation of the biometric exit system at such facility not later than two years after the date of enactment of the Act.”
Since 2004, multiple laws have been passed by the U.S. Congress that requires full implementation of a biometric entry-exit system at all ports-of-entry. However, the U.S. government has fallen quite short of implementing a comprehensive solution. So far, the government has only been able to launch a series of pilot projects.
“We are pleased that the Senate chose not to approve an amendment which would have set an arbitrary deadline for implementing biometric exit mandates, and blocked airports from receiving critical funding for security,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Security must come first, and this amendment would have been a costly setback to the Department of Homeland Security’s existing work to implement an efficient biometric exit system for processing travelers departing the U.S.”
Though the bill did not deal with biometric entry-exit, it did focus on a number of provisions, including an authorization of annual increases in airport improvement program funding, and ease of installation of modern safety equipment in legacy aircraft.
The bill’s fate in the House is uncertain. The current FAA re-authorization legislation expires on July 15.