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America's New War: McCain, Hutchison Answer Questions Regarding Airline Industry

Aired September 25, 2001 - 14:07   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Senator John McCain is now talking about airport, airline security. We listen in.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: So we're going to work through these issues, working together in a bipartisan basis.

Finally, I believe that this bill should be, as it's named, airport security. I don't believe Amtrak or other issues such as unemployment benefits and those should be addressed in this issue. I think there are separate issues. I worry that if you start adding other areas on, whether they are good or bad or legitimate or not legitimate, then we may overload this legislation, which needs to be passed immediately.

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, (R) TEXAS: Let me just say that I think it is very important that Congress address aviation security. Today, there are air marshals on many flights. Today, there are more monitors at the screening tables for the radar going through an airport.

There had been emergency efforts made to beef up our security with personnel borrowed from other agencies. I know at DFW airport, Border Patrol agents are monitoring the screening. I think that's very healthy. There has been a suggestion that National Guard be put at the screeners in many of our airports. I think that's a good idea.

But, for the long term, we must permanentize aviation security. That's why Senator McCain and I are working with Senator Hollings and Senator Rockefeller on addressing all of these issues.

But the bottom line is, we are going to have sky marshals on most flights in our country, if not all, and we are going to have better quality training for our screeners. And we will probably have more federal employees in the process.

We are still working out the details. I think we will have a very bipartisan bill that will move ahead so that the people of our country will feel safe flying.

But I want the people of our country to know that we already have emergency measures in place, that there are sky marshals on many flights and there are upgraded supervisors at many of the screeners at airports. And I have flown now twice, back and forth, through the weekends after September 11, and I feel very secure that the extra measures are being taken.

QUESTION: Senator McCain asked the questions; what are your positions? Do you favor a security surcharge on tickets? Do you favor making all the screeners federal employees? And what about the issue raised by the pilots today of letting them carry firearms in the cockpit?

MCCAIN: Well, let me say to start with, I think they're all negotiable. What we're trying to seek is consensus. My personal desire is that a lot of this money come out of the emergency funding that's already been appropriated.

But these issues are negotiable. I think we all share the same goal, and my personal preferences are that we find ways to establish standards, rather than have them federalize all the employees. But that is not going to -- that position will not keep me from changing it if necessary in order to reach a legislative result.

HUTCHISON: Also, let me just say, too, that the administration is putting forward its position, probably this afternoon. And I think both Senator McCain and I want to work with the administration. I would like to have the federal employees at the screeners, but I can work within a different concept, such as Senator McCain just laid out, that it could be better standards.

You know, I passed a bill last year that provided higher standards for these screeners, and the FAA was just in the process of putting the rules forward. I think we will have to go even beyond what we did in last year's bill.

So I think we can do that. I think a security fee on the ticket is probably in order. I want to make sure that we do pay for this, so that it doesn't run out of money or start encroaching on other safety measures. But, once again, I think the administration will come together with us, and I think there are other ways to pay for it, besides that way.

So I don't think anyone is in concrete here. I think we're working together, as we should be, getting the administration, the House, the Senate, Democrats and Republicans all together. And I think we will come up with a plan.

QUESTION: How do you feel about the pilots carrying guns...

BROWN: Senate Republicans talking about their hopes for increased airport security, how they might pay for it.

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