Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen appeared at separate hearings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to discuss the administration's FY 2019 budget proposals for DOT and DHS.
At a hearing before the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Secretary Chao said that she recognizes the benefits and importance of the federal Contract Tower Program.
"I am a great proponent of contract towers," Chao said. "I think they are necessary to provide greater safety."
On the other side of the Capitol, Secretary Nielsen discussed the DHS budget request at a hearing held by the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. The hearing focused heavily on border security, immigration and cybersecurity matters.
Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) pressed Secretary Nielsen on ways CBP can improve its hiring process for CBP Officers and Border Patrol Agents. Secretary Nielsen stated that "DHS needs to make a more concerted effort to hire and retain." She provided a few examples of ongoing CBP efforts, such as conducting polygraphs at the beginning of the hiring process (as opposed to at the end) and hiring veterans that have already passed government background checks, which have helped the agency hire faster.