Published on Jul 25, 2012
The House Committee on Homeland Security convened for a hearing entitled "Understanding the Homeland Threat Landscape," at which U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack (MN) and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano came together for yet another productive deliberation on the future of U.S. aviation safety.
Cravaack, a former commercial airline pilot and FFDO, questioned Secretary Napolitano as to whether she intended to carry out President Obama's planned disarming of the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program, which would effectively kill the program.
Earlier this year, 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, or train any additional officers.
Subsequently, this past February, Secretary Napolitano made news when she minimized the importance of highly trained FFDOs:
Cravaack: "Is a Federal Flight Deck Officer the last line of defense for our travelling public?"
Napolitano: "I think the armed cockpit door actually is."
Importantly, this past June the House passed the Cravaack amendment, which increases current FFDO funding by $10 million, from $25.5 million to $35.5 million. The increase is offset by a $5 million reduction in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Screeners Payroll, Benefits, and Compensation account and the Screening Maintenance Account.
Today, the Secretary expounded on the importance highly trained personnel play aboard an aircraft. Additionally, the Secretary promised to execute the FFDO program to capacity if Congress passed the funding increase under the Cravaack amendment:
Cravaack: "Is your intent then not to phase out the program if you get this funding?"
Napolitano: "I don't speculate. I don't play 'what ifs.'"
Cravaack: "I'll ask you again..."
Napolitano: "If there is funding for the program, we will carry out the program, yes sir."
Earlier this year, Rep. Cravaack headlined a Heritage Foundation event focused on saving the FFDO program.
Representative Cravaack serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee -- where he is Vice Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee -- the Homeland Security Committee, and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. The 8th Congressional District covers 18 counties in Northeast Minnesota.