WASHINGTON, DC (September 25, 2008) – The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading US airlines, applauded the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee for taking action that if adopted by the Senate, would withhold funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) US-VISIT Exit program.

The House-approved language would withhold the funding that DHS desires to develop a system that uses biometrics, such as fingerprints, to verify when foreigners leave the United States through airports. Funding for the system would be withheld until the department conducts tests to determine if DHS should conduct the tests instead of the airlines.

“Our elected officials have recognized what we long have been saying, that DHS lacks the legal authority to force airlines to collect fingerprints from foreign travelers departing from the US,” said ATA president and CEO James C. May. “We are extremely grateful to chairman Price and ranking member Rogers for having the forethought and leadership to stop this illegal action. We urge the Senate to respond in a similar manner by passing a continuing resolution containing the same language. Maybe then DHS will get the message and withdraw its proposal.”

ATA airline members and their affiliates transport more than 90 percent of all US airline passenger and cargo traffic. For additional information about the industry, visit www.airlines.org.