2017 Legislative Summit - Washington DC



May 9, 2017

VBTA is working for you!! 

I wanted to update you on what the VBTA Government Relations has been up to on your behalf.  This April we had 5 VBTA Members - Samantha Bean, Rob Haislip, Bethany Serena, Karen Hatch and Joyce Byington-Clark  in attendance at this year’s Legislative Summit.  We joined forces with the Northern Virginia Business Travel Association and met with seven of the eight Congressional Delegations represented by our Team.  We spent a day getting familiar with the issues and a day on “The Hill” meeting with Congressional and Senatorial Staff pleading our case for the two target issues.  

These are the two very important issues that we put forward that need your support!  The first is a request to prevent the first is the continued prohibition of voice calls on airplanes in flight.  The FCC is remains opposed to voice calls in any form, but the Department of Transportation announced a proposal in December 2016 to allow the carriers to set their own policy.  GBTA has several reasons for their opposition:

* 64% of business travelers oppose allowing passengers voice calls in flight.

* In order to be heard, a passenger must converse over the roar of jet engines, the caller would have to shout to be heard over the 85 decibel sound, severely disrupting fellow passengers.

* Reports previously delivered to the FCC conducted by a third party security analysts have shown that allowing voice calls on and airplane increases commercial aviation security vulnerabilities evaluating the risk level of a terror threat.

* The phenomenon of “air rage” – incidents of unruly passengers abusing flight attendants – increased 14% in 2015 with 10,854 reported cases.  GBTA believes that adding loud and disruptive phone calls in the air will only increase traveler annoyance and irritability, and lead to more disruptive incidents.

We would ask you to reach out to Department of Transportation Secretary Chao and express your support for pulling DOTs proposal.

The second issue that we are seeking your support is curbing any increase in the Passenger Security Fees.  The PSF were created after 9/11 to offset the cost of aviation security.  Under the Budget Control Act of 2013, TSA is required to deposit a specified amount of revenue each year (2014 to 2023) into the general fund of the Treasury and pay down the deficit.  Those amounts are specified by law.  Regardless of how much money TDA collects, how many travelers pass through the screening checkpoint, or how long the wait times are, a portion of the fee is diverted to pay down the deficit.  Generally, one third of the revenue generated from the PSF will be used to pay down the deficit through 2023, (total of 12.630 billion).  For FY 2018, $1.3 billion is targeted for deficit reduction.

In March the President released “A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again”.  As a result of new priorities, the President is seeking new funding resources and offsets.  One source of funding included in the President’s Blueprint was a proposal to reform the Passenger Security Fee “to recover 75% of the cost of TSA aviation security operations.”

What does that mean to the business traveler?  Paying more for less.  The President’s proposal would generate an additional $822 million to $2 billion in additional revenue.  Last year the total cost of aviation security was $6.021 billion, however the PSF generated roughly $3.694 billion.  75% of the total cost of $6.021 billion is $4.516 billion.  Therefore, under the President’s proposal, the Passenger Security Fee would need to generate an additional $822 million to meet that 75% goal.  However, that excludes the $1.25 billion statutorily required to pay down the deficit. 

We understand the threats to our aviation system have not abated and aviation security remains a national priority.  We also know that TSA has developed a comprehensive risk-based approach to screening passengers and baggage, providing a better allocation of staffing, equipment and resources.  They have worked diligently to deploy cutting edge screening technologies; implement trusted traveler programs; use canine enforcement teams; and work in coordination with Customs and Boarder Protection and other federal agencies to ensure efficient and secure passenger, baggage and cargo screening.

Increasing the PSF will not make travel more efficient safer.  The answer is developing a more efficient risk-based screening system that fully ensures security while eliminating unnecessary travel hassles and expense.

We would ask that you would oppose any increase in PSF and that the existing PFS be used for the original intention of Congress, to fund making travel safer and more efficient through new technologies and trusted traveler programs.

Please reach out to your representative today and ask them to support the ban on voice calls and push back against increased fees!



I will be happy to assist you in any way that I am able.  These issues are too important to be silent!! 

Joyce Byington-Clark 

VBTA Government Liaison  

“The penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you will be governed by your inferiors.”