House to Consider Bill Mandating Change at the TSA to Reduce Wait Times at Airports

By Paul Riegler on 27 May 2016
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Old Senate chamber in the Capitol

Old Senate chamber in the Capitol

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering legislation that would reduce the long lines at the nation’s airport security checkpoints.

Members of the House Committee on Homeland Security introduced a bill that addresses the excessive wait times at security checkpoints by requiring the Transportation Security Administration to make numerous changes to its operations.

The airline industry in the United States came out strongly behind the plan. “We applaud the House Homeland Security Committee for taking measureable action to help ease the frustration of our passengers standing in these lines,” Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president of A4A, the trade association representing major U.S. airlines.

If signed into law, the Checkpoint Optimization and Efficiency Act of 2016 will require the TSA to assign behavior detection officers to man checkpoints instead of their current assignments and also give local TSA directors additional flexibility to make changes in staffing that will result in shorter wait times. The bill also requires that the TSA review the allocation of screeners and canine teams at each airport with an eye towards reducing wait times. It will also order the TSA to expand the PreCheck trusted traveler program.

The Government Accountability Office would be charged with reviewing the TSA’s staffing allocations model and seeks to ensure that trained screeners are used only for security-related tasks while other workers would be assigned to tasks such as restocking bins at checkpoints.

The wait time at some of the nation’s largest airports can be up to several hours while the Department of Transportation has set a standard of 29 minutes of less.

Last week, the TSA replaced its head of security operations, Kelly Hoggan, amidst criticism of the current wait times. Earlier in the year, several major airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, LaGuardia, and John F. Kennedy International, have threatened to replace TSA screeners with private contractors in an attempt to force the agency into taking action.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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