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U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., at the T.F. Green International Airport on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. He announced a new federal appropriation to reimburse the airport for post-9/11 baggage screening improvements. He was accompanied by Daniel Burche, Transportation Security Administration security director, left, and Iftikhar Ahmad, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. Office of Sen. Jack Reed.

PROVIDENCE — T.F. Green Airport will be reimbursed $5.5 million for improved baggage screening systems, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said in a visit to the airport on Friday. 

Reed, the ranking member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies  Appropriations Subcommittee, appeared with Iftikhar Ahmad, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, and Daniel Burche, federal Transportation Security Administration security director.

The 2020 appropriations law includes $7.8 billion for the TSA, increases TSA staffing by over 1,000 frontline workers nationwide, and sets aside $40 million to reimburse several airports for baggage screening systems and security improvements, of which $5.5 million will be directed to T.F. Green. 

In the early 2000s, T.F. Green Airport swiftly installed new security technology and integrated in-line baggage screening systems with the understanding that it would be reimbursed, Reed's office said. In addition to enhanced security, the investment also helped to reduce airline delays by efficiently checking thousands of bags per hour.

However, despite saving the federal government millions of dollars in reduced labor and workers’ compensation costs, RIAC had never been reimbursed.

“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," Reed said.  "Finally, the federal government is paying them back and I will continue pressing to ensure Rhode Island is fully reimbursed by the federal government.”

TSA screens about 5,700 passengers and crew members per day at T.F. Green, with crowds peaking at nearly 8,000 per day around the busiest travel days of the year.  In 2019, TSA screened over 2.1 million passengers departing from T.F. Green airport and X-rayed over 1.12 million checked bags.

To enhance security at T.F. Green, TSA is investing in new technologies for 2020, including two new CT scanning machines and an Advanced Image Technology scanner.  The new equipment provides enhanced detection technology and helps saves travelers time.

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, 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 were eligible for a total of $218 million in reimbursements.

Reed says this $5.5 million installment brings T.F. Green’s total reimbursement to-date to $18 million of the $30 million it was originally owed. Reed said he would continue working with his colleagues to make additional federal funding available in the years ahead.

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