House bill to give troops money collected from TSA's forgetful travelers

In spite of outrage over invasive pat-downs and body scanners, it seems that many of us are leaving a handsome tip for TSA when we travel. In Fiscal 2010, forgetful travelers added about $400,000 to the Transportation Security Administration’s bottom line through pocket change left in travel bins.

But staff of a Republican Congressman said a bill that would give the left-behind pocket change to an organization supporting troops instead is quickly gaining support.

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) got the idea for his bill during trips between his home state and Washington, D.C., said chief of staff Dan McFaul.

“(Miller) noticed some of the change left in the bins going through security,” McFaul told Human Events. “When he got back to Washington, he started asking questions.”

The end result was a proposal that would give the yearly take to the USO, a nonprofit organization that supports service members with dedicated support centers across the country, a number of which are located in the nation’s major airports.
First introduced back in June 2011, the bill has been gaining steam in recent months. Over half of its 37 legislative co-sponsors signed on in the last two months, after the bill got the attention of a number of news sites and travel blogs.

After clearing the House Committee on Homeland Security last month, the bill made another step forward last week when the Congressional Budget Office gave the measure a cost estimate of $1 million, accounting only for the backlog of collected change that has been counted as part of the TSA budget until now.

As the bill awaits a vote on the House floor, McFaul said its biggest hindrances will likely be a tight calendar and long legislative to-do list.

“There’s not a tremendous amount of opposition to it,” he said. “The biggest challenge is the calendar, trying to get the bill on the floor.”

McFaul said public response to the measure has also been positive.

“I think people were astonished at the amount of money that was actually left, when it was added up,” he said.

In a statement, Miller said the bill represented a small way citizens could reclaim control, rather than funding government regulations.

“The TSA has already figured this money into their annual budget and feels entitled to it,” Miller said. “This kind of entitled attitude highlights the out-of-control nature of our federal bureaucracy.”