Cravaack passes amendment to improve U.S. aviation security in opposition to Obama's plans to disarm pilots

WASHINGTON -- [On June 6], the House unanimously agreed to the amendment offered by U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack (MN) to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2013, which would increase funding for the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program. Importantly, the amendment is fully offset and will not cost taxpayers any additional money.

The Cravaack amendment increases current FFDO funding by $10 million to $35.5 million, while reducing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Screeners Payroll, Benefits, and Compensation account by $5 million and the Screening Maintenance Account by $5 million.

"9/11 woke us up to the reality that we live in a dangerous world. With varied and ever-emerging threats, every effort should be made to make air travel as safe as possible. As a former FFDO, I can personally attest the sacrifices and expenses these pilots voluntarily undergo for the privilege to participate in the program and the honor to defend our country from terrorist attack," said Rep. Cravaack. "The FFDO program is the most cost-effective means to making air travel safe for Americans. Contrary to Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano's flawed logic, the last line of defense on an aircraft is not the secured cockpit door, but the armed pilot behind it," he added.

Earlier this year, President Obama's planned disarming of FFDO pilots was made public. Specifically, the Obama Administration proposed halving the program from $25.5 million to $12.5 million, effectively shutting it down. At this level of funding, the FFDO program would be unable to re-certify all of the pilots in the program, maintain its current management structure, and train any additional officers.

According to estimates by the Air Line Pilots Association, FFDO's only cost $15 per flight segment. Currently, FFDO's defend over 100,000 flight segments per month and 1.5 million flight segments per year. Thousands of FFDO's have been certified through the program, despite a budget that hasn't grown since the program's inception.

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