WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the wake of the terrorist attack at a concert in Manchester, England, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is raising serious concerns over cuts included in President Trump’s FY2018 budget to critical Transportation Security Administration (TSA) programs that safeguard Americans at large events and while traveling, especially in non-secure “soft” target areas like check-in and baggage claim areas.
The President’s budget released yesterday would dramatically reduce the number of Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams from 31 to just eight nationwide. VIPR teams protect and promote confidence in the nation's transportation systems through targeted deployment of TSA screening and law enforcement capabilities at transit hubs, including airports and subways, and National Special Security Events (NSSEs). TSA works with intelligence and law enforcement agencies to deploy these teams based on threat levels and other security priorities.
“In the face of international terrorism, it's critical that we make every effort to secure our airports, train stations, and bus depots--the places Americans rely on to go about their daily lives,” said Senator Heinrich. “As we target terrorists abroad we owe it to our citizens to protect them at home. I am stunned President Trump would eliminate critical security programs in order to provide tax breaks to the wealthy.”
TSA works with intelligence and law enforcement agencies to deploy VIPR teams based on threat levels and other security priorities. These teams consist of law enforcement officials, regulatory inspectors, explosives specialists, canine teams, and in some cases, screening personnel. Senator Heinrich led the effort to expand the number of VIPR teams across the nation. Last year, at the Albuquerque International Sunport, Senator Heinrich highlighted the importance of VIPR teams with the then Director of the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service, a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.