Statement by U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Chairman of the House Transportation Security Subcommittee, released the following statement on this week's first commercial flight departure from the U.S. to Cuba:
"In spite of concerns about the security of Cuban airports, the Obama Administration continues to push political goals at the expense of the safety and security of the traveling public by moving forward with commercial flights between Cuba and the U.S. This premature, and ill-advised opening represents a direct threat to our national security.
Cuba has long been tied to criminal and terrorist enterprises. The discovery of forged Cuban passports, used by Afghans and manufactured by Iranians, illustrates the dire need for additional, strictly enforced security measures before the resumption of commercial air travel.
Recent tragedies have shown us that insider threats to aviation are real – and it is clear that the U.S. government currently lacks sufficient information to ensure that Cuban airports are not vulnerable to the external and internal threats that prevail in today’s sensitive security environment. Nor has sufficient information been provided to U.S. air carriers about the ideological sentiments, criminal history, or foreign ties of Cuban airport workers. Further, the airlines will not be permitted to hire their own workers and all airport and airline functions will be performed by Cuban government employees.
The unilateral action by this Administration to open commercial air travel to Cuba completely disregards Congress’s oversight, and instead, prioritizes an ideological goal over the safety of the American public."