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house Bill H.R. 2589

Keeping The TSA's Security Operations Off Buses, Trains, and Ferries

Argument in favor

Random screenings on public transit are unconstitutional. There is no evidence that having the TSA monitor ground transportation stops threats to travelers.

Argument opposed

The risk of a successful terrorist attack justifies the use of these random screenings. National safety is more important than a minor inconvenience to passengers on buses.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security
    IntroducedJune 28th, 2013

What is House Bill H.R. 2589?

This bill would remove the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) authority to conduct random searches of passengers traveling on surface transportation like buses, trains, subways, and ferry terminals.

The TSA would be barred from performing any security screening operations on ground travel and refocus their monitoring to aviation travel.
The ability of the TSA to perform any other security screening operations would be revoked.


People who use public transportation, VIPR screening teams, TSA, and the DHS.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2589

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information


H.R. 2589 would repeal the authority of the Department of Homeland Security Secretary and the TSA to develop Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams and conduct security screenings of public transportation. 

Since 2005, the TSA has deployed VIPR — or “viper” — teams to conduct thousands of unannounced, random sweeps of bus, train, subway and ferry stations. VIPR teams have the authority to enter any transportation facility – anytime, anywhere – and search people and their property.

VIPR teams were part of the federal government’s response to the 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid. Conducting random screenings through VIPR teams weren't deployed to investigate credible threats, but were planned as a deterrent to future terrorist attacks on train stations, subways, and other mass transit hubs.

The LA Times reported that in 2011, the viper teams had conducted 9,300 search operations in the preceding year.


Sponsoring Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) Press Release

Breitbart Op-Ed by Sponsoring Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ)

Mother Jones

New York Times

LA Times

(Photo Credit: Flickr user jurvetson)


Freedom of Travel Act of 2013

Official Title

To prohibit the Transportation Security Administration from performing security screening operations for surface transportation, and for other purposes.

    TSA is ineffective in principle and in practice. Screening not only doesn’t help, they also fail 80-90% of all audits with mock weapons and explosives.
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