House Passes Bill that Mandates TSA to Study Emerging Transportation Security Threats

The legislation calls for a task force to look into emerging cyber, chemical, drone and other threats. 

The House of Representatives passed new legislation this week directing the Transportation Security Administration to launch a security-focused task force to investigate emerging and future threats targeting the transportation domain. 

The Emerging Transportation Security Threats Act of 2019, introduced in June by Rep. John Joyce, R-Pa., was approved by voice vote Monday.

“In the face of evolving security challenges, it is imperative for federal agencies to work together to prevent and combat threats to our nation,” Joyce said in a statement. “By establishing a task force with the Transportation Security Administration and other security leaders, the [legislation] will facilitate new strategies to mitigate emerging threats to the U.S. transportation system.”

If enacted, TSA would be required to consult with the National Intelligence Director and community, as well as relevant agency leads to create a task force that will conduct and create a comprehensive analysis of the evolving risks to American transportation. 

The group will be expected to study and weigh in on threats posed by terrorist organizations’ developing tactics, chemical and biological agents, malicious cyber threats that can undermine travel systems and safety, as well as the dangers posed by unmanned aerial devices or drones. Further, the task force is also expected to look into foreign actors that can exploit “inadequate security screening protocols” at U.S. airports, the recent growth in passenger volume and challenges around information sharing between the government, its allies, law enforcement officials and transportation operators. 

In coordination with public and private stakeholders, TSA is also mandated to brief Congress on its findings and produce a threat mitigation strategy to counter the threats assessed throughout its analysis. The legislation moved to the Senate and on Tuesday was referred to the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.