Finders Not Keepers: House Tells TSA To Hand Over Loose Change Left At Airport Security To Programs Supporting Military Personnel

 @AmruthaGayathri on December 04 2013 3:36 AM
TSA officer
A TSA security officer checks a passenger at the Salt Lake City international airport, in Salt Lake City, Utah on Nov. 21, 2012. Reuters/George Frey

Loose change left behind by passengers at airport security checkpoints could soon be used to help finance travel facilities that support U.S. military personnel on the move, under a new bill approved by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, news reports said.

The bill requires the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, to transfer unclaimed money abandoned at airport security lines around the country to non-profit organizations that offer food and other airport amenities for traveling members of the armed forces. Under the existing mechanism, TSA deposits unclaimed money in a fund that supports civil aviation security.

“The TSA has been keeping the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters from your change purse to pay for their bloated bureaucracy,” Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the lead sponsor of the bill, said in a written statement prior to the passing of the bill. “In 2012, over $531,000 was collected at TSA airport security checkpoints. That number is up $44,000 from 2011.”

The bill, which received support from both House Republicans and Democrats, was originally introduced several years ago, but had not made it to the House floor, USA Today reported. The measure now needs the Senate's approval before it becomes law.

Passengers often do not bother to reclaim coins after airport security checks, but the TSA said, in a report to Congress in March, that it seeks to ensure that “all traveler property, including loose change,” finds its way back to the owner, and only when that does not happen is the loose change directed to aviation security programs.

“If TSA representatives get to play ‘finders keepers’ with your hard-earned cash, what’s the incentive to try to get the loose change to its rightful owners?” Miller said, in the statement.

Top U.S. airports where the most money was abandoned at checkpoints in the 2012 fiscal year were Miami International, McCarran International in Las Vegas, and O'Hare International in Chicago, according to the TSA.

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