The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 is reshaping the K9 Industry.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 will have a significant impact on the future of canine screening within the United States. This article takes an in-depth look at the Act and its potential impacts on the canine industry. First a little background for those not familiar with the process and those asking why is does the FAA Reauthorization Act influencing the canine industry.

How Does a Bill become Public Law?

The long process for a bill to become a public law can start in either house of congress when the introduced by a Senator or Representative. From their the bill goes to committee where a small group of Representatives or Senators conduct research, discuss, and make changes to the bill. The committee then votes to accept or reject the bill and its changes. If the bill is accepted, it can be sent to two places either the floor for debate or to a subcommittee for additional research. A bill that has been sent to a subcommittee must comeback to the committee to be accepted prior to going to the floor.

Once a bill has made it to the floor of either house members of the House or Senate can now debate the bill and propose modification or amendments prior to voting. If the majority votes to pass the bill, it moves to the other house to go through a similar process of committees, debate, and voting. Both houses must agree on the same final version of the bill before it goes to the President.

The President has four options when a bill is received:

  • Approve and Pass – The President signs and approves the bill, at this point the bill becomes law.

  • Veto the bill – The President rejects the bill and returns it to Congress with the reasons for the veto. Congress can override the veto with 2/3 vote of those present in both the House and Senate and the bill will become law.

  • Take No Action – The President can decide to do nothing. If Congress is in session, after 10 days of no answer from the President, the bill then automatically becomes law.

  • Pocket veto – If Congress adjourns (goes out of session) within the 10 days period after giving the President the bill, the President can choose not to sign it and the bill will not become law.

Why do bills have seemingly unrelated items in them?

Now that we understand the process for a bill to become a law; it is easier to explain why Congress consolidates items into bills. This typically happens at the committee level. Instead of submitting a new bill they will combine them under one bill. As a result, we have bills or laws that contain items that appear to be unrelated to the bill’s title.

 Snapshot of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018

FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018

Introduced on January 5th, 2018 by Representative Brett Guthrie a Republican from Kentucky’s 2nd District as H.R. 302 and became public law number 115-254 on October 5th, 2018.

Canines are mentioned 95 times throughout the document. Some references to canines are not directly linked to new initiatives. Our focus is primarily on changes and new efforts related to canines for both public and private sectors. The below sections provide a summary of the major changes and modification directed by this Act as they related to canines.

Section 1218 – National Veterinary Emergency Teams

This Section can be found in the Act under Division D – Disaster Recovery Reform. Section 1218 authorizes the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish one or more National Veterinary Emergency Teams (NVET) at accredited colleges of veterinary medicine.

NVETs will deploy as an asset of the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System to provide Veterinary care for canine search teams. Additionally, the NVET will provide local treatment for companion animals, service animals, livestock, and other animals.

The NVET is also directed to work with State and Local governments to develop emergency management and evacuation plans that account for the care and rescue of animals and in improving local readiness for providing veterinary medical response during an emergency or major disaster.

Section 1927 – Explosive Detection Canine Capacity Building

Found under Division K – Title I – Subtitle A - Section 1927 establishes that the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will establish within 90 days from enactment a working group to determine way to support decentralized, non-Federal domestic canine breeding capacity to produce high quality explosive detection canines (EDC) and modernize canine training standards.

The working group is to be comprised of representative from the TSA, Science and Technology Directorate of the Department, National Domestic Canine Associations, Universities, Domestic Canine Breeders and Vendors.

180 days following the establishment of the working group the working group will provide the TSA Administrator with a proposal for medical, behavioral, and technical standards for domestic canine breeding and training. Separately the working group will provide recommendations on how the TSA can engage stakeholders to enhance the domestic canine breeding capacity and training.

The TSA Administrator has 180 after receiving the working group’s recommendations to develop and submit to Congress a strategy for working with non-Federal stakeholders to expand the domestic canine breeding capacity.

Section 1928 – Third Party Domestic Canines

Before October 4, 2019 the TSA Administrator shall issue behavioral, medical, technical standards based on the recommendations of the working group that a third-party explosive detection canine must satisfy to be certified for the screening of individuals and property, including detection of explosive vapors among individuals and articles of property, in public areas of an airport.

To augment public area security the TSA Administrator shall provide guidance on the development and deployment of explosive detection canine teams for use by transportation stakeholders to enhance public area security at transportation hubs, including airports.

270 follow the issuance of the standards the Administrator shall, enter into an agreement with third-party canine providers to test and certify the capabilities of canine in accordance with the standards. A list of third-party providers which the TSA has entered into an agreement with must be provided to transportation stakeholders.

The TSA must develop and implement a process to ensure appropriate oversight of the certification program and compliance with the established standards.

The TSA Administrator shall authorize an aviation stakeholder, which falls under the Federal Security Director at applicable airports; to contract with, procure, or purchase, and deploy third-party explosive detection canines that meet the established canine standards.

Section 1929 – Tracking and Monitoring of Canines Training and Testing

Not later than 180 days following enactment of this Act, the TSA administrator shall employ a digital monitoring system for all training, testing, and validation or certification of public and private canine assets utilized or funded by the TSA to facilitate improved review, data analysis, and record keeping of canine testing performance and program administration.

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Section 1941 – Third Party Canine Teams for Air Cargo Security

Section 1941 of this Act serves as an amendment to Section 1307 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (6 U.S.C. 1116). Adding a new paragraph ‘‘(h) THIRD PARTY CANINE TEAMS FOR AIR CARGO SECURITY.”

The purpose of this new language is to establish the use of third-party explosive detection canine assets to enhance the screening of air cargo. Section 1941 states that the TSA must establish and issue standards for the use of third-party explosive detection canine assets to conduct primary screening of air cargo. These assets are to be certified by qualified non-Federal entities under the oversight of the TSA. The TSA must ensure that these qualified entities are independent from the entities that will train and provide canines.

Under this program certified third party canines maybe utilized by air carriers, foreign air carriers, freight forwarders, and shippers. All costs for training, certifying and utilizing these canine assets are to be borne by private industry and not the Federal Government.

Additionally, this section defines Third Party Explosive Detection Canine Assets as explosives detection canine or handler not owned or employed, respectively, by the Transportation Security Administration.

Section 1970 – Review of the Explosive Detection Canine Team Program

The Inspector General (IG) shall conduct a review of the explosive detection canine team program. This review should include the TSA’s canine team deployment strategy, the National Explosive Detection Canine Team Program (NEDCTP). The assessment should look at all aspects of canine training, handler training, refresher training, along with any updates to these programs. The IG report should include a review on the use of canine assets during urgent security needs to include resource reallocation during emergency situations. Additionally, the IG shall provide details associated with the monitoring and tracking of canine assets.   

Section 1971 – Expansion of National Explosive Detection Canine Team Program

State, local, and tribal governments and private owners of high-risk transportation facilities should strengthen security through the use of explosives detection canine teams. Prior to the IG report covered under Section 1970 the TSA may increase the number of State and local surface and maritime transportation canines by not more than 70 explosives detection canine teams. Following the submission of the IG report an additional 200 explosive detection canine teams may be added under the risk-based surface transportation security strategy.