WASHINGTON, DC – After a year-long effort, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee, today announced that the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) will receive $6,952,135 in federal funding to reimburse T. F. Green Airport for security upgrades made in the wake of 9/11.
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Congress passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act ( P.L. 107-71). Designed to correct vulnerabilities in aviation security exploited by the 9/11 hijackers, the law established the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as a new organization within the U.S. Department of Transportation; placed airport screening under federal jurisdiction; and required explosive detection screening of all checked bags.
T.F. Green Airport was among several airports to swiftly install new security technology and sophisticated, integrated in-line baggage screening systems with the understanding that it would be reimbursed for its early action. In addition to enhanced security, the baggage screening investment also helps reduce airline delays by efficiently checking thousands of bags per hour.
Despite the fact that the airport installed in-line systems early, enhancing safety and saving the federal government millions of dollars in reduced labor and workers compensation costs, RIAC has never been reimbursed.
“This federal funding is a positive step and long overdue. Congress mandated stronger airport security and the federal government must fulfill its commitment and reimburse airports that took appropriate measures to protect the travelling public,” stated Senator Reed. “In the wake of 9/11, Rhode Island airport officials answered the call to improve security, putting the safety of passengers above all else and dedicating significant financial resources to do so. Finally, the federal government is paying them back and I will continue pressing to ensure Rhode Island is fully reimbursed by the federal government.”
“Senator Reed continues to be a tireless advocate for the state, the airport, and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. He has championed a reimbursement from the federal government that was long overdue and his relentless leadership made all the difference. This critical funding will allow us to continue to invest in the airport’s infrastructure and better serve Rhode Island travelers,” said Iftikhar Ahmad, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.
In 2007, Reed helped pass the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act, which made projects eligible for federal reimbursement even if they were started before the law's enactment.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Reed included language in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 114- 113), directing TSA to work to validate airports' claims for reimbursement and establish a process to pay them. After a thorough review, TSA determined that 14 airports requesting a total of $267 million are eligible for TSA's validation process.
Earlier this year, Reed secured $50 million in the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 115–141) under the Homeland Security Appropriations title of the law to begin reimbursing over a dozen airports, including T.F. Green, for these post-9/11 capital security improvements.
Reed says this $6,952,135 installment should just be a down payment on the $30.2 million that RIAC is owed by the federal government for making mandated security upgrades. Reed says he will continue working to make additional federal funding available in the years ahead to ensure Congress repays Rhode Island for these needed security investments.
In addition to T.F. Green Airport, other eligible airports include: Nantucket (ACK); Atlantic City (ACY); Anchorage (ANC); Indianapolis (IND); Jacksonville (JAX); Orlando (MCO); Harrisburg (MDT); Chicago Midway (MDW); Pittsburg (PIT); Richmond (RIC); Southwest Florida (RSW); Sarasota-Bradenton (SRQ); and Tampa (TPA).