Durbin Meets with CDA Commissioner Evans to Discuss President Trump's Budget

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) Commissioner Ginger Evans to discuss President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts and the harmful impact they could have on airport security.  They also discussed ongoing initiatives at O’Hare International Airport and Midway Airport, the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP), O’Hare’s Fly Quiet Runway Rotation program, and the Elgin O’Hare Western Access (EOWA) project.

“President Trump says he wants to ‘make America safe again.’ But his budget cuts to airport security measures only serve to make us more vulnerable.  Instead of spending billions of taxpayer dollars on a meaningless border wall, President Trump should be focused on supporting programs that are proven to keep Americans safe,” said Durbin.  

President Trump’s budget – released earlier this month – would eliminate three airport security programs put in place after 9/11, diverting $80 million of those funds to help build the border wall. The president’s budget would cut $45 million in grant funding that pays for local police officers in airports, the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams, which create a highly visible police presence in airports, and the training for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers in how to recognize unusual passenger behavior.

Last summer during negotiations of the FAA Reauthorization bill, Durbin urged the leaders of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to include a bipartisan provision to increase the number of VIPR teams nationwide from 30 to as many as 60 and add their operations to “soft” target areas at airports, like check-in and baggage claim.  TSA works with intelligence and law enforcement agencies to deploy VIPR teams based on threat levels and other security priorities.  The teams consist of law enforcement officials, regulatory inspectors, explosives specialists, and in some cases, screening personnel.