TSA Watch: Does The Weiner Bill Have Legs?
General aviation's alphabet soup has been positively hyperventilating the last few days in response to a new bill introduced in Congress by U.S. Rep. Anthony D. Weiner (D-N.Y.). Weiner, who apparently never read what Mark Twain wrote about idiots and Members of Congress, last week introduced H.R. 5035, which would "require the ... same [pre-boarding] screening of all passengers and property ... carried aboard a [general aviation] aircraft as is provided for ... a passenger aircraft operated by an air carrier," among other things. Put another way, you'd have to walk through a metal detector and be screened by the TSA before climbing into your sailplane, hot air balloon or LSA, much less your Gulfstream. Despite the sheer impracticality of being screened before taking off your Cub from your own grass strip, there simply aren't enough bucks in Uncle Sugar's bank account -- and never will be -- to make such nonsense happen. Hopefully, according to AOPA, however, the fork may have been stuck into the Weiner (whiner?) bill by the time you read this. "We're using our professional Washington, D.C.-based legislative staff and our personal, ongoing relationships with powerful members of Congress to drive a stake through the heart of this ill-conceived bill," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The congressmen closest to aviation issues know exactly how AOPA members feel about this legislation." According to AOPA, the first opportunity for the Weiner bill to advance would be today when the House considers legislation implementing recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. Weiner could try to offer his bill as an amendment to that legislation, but the likelihood of his success is low, according to observers. Meanwhile, the TSA has made it abundantly clear over the last couple of years that it does not consider GA aircraft to be a threat to national security, even though the agency has not yet made itself heard on this legislation. The good thing is that Congress won't be in session much longer this year. The bad news is that Weiner, whose congressional district is centered in the New York City borough of Queens, faces what is widely considered to be token opposition in the coming general election. Do you feel secure yet?