Airports and airlines across the nation last week welcomed the introduction of two bills aimed at alleviating mounting congestion in airport security lines by increasing TSA efficiency and reallocating billions of dollars in security fees paid by passengers.
The FASTER Act (H.R. 5340) is aimed at ensuring passenger security fees are used for aviation security, according to a statement released last week by Rep. Peter DeFazio, Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Since 2013, the federal government has diverted billions in funds collected from the 9/11 Passenger Security Fee away from aviation and into general government spending. “At airports across the country, people are forced to wait in long security lines like cattle, causing many to miss their flight,” said DeFazio. “To add insult to injury, funding to help fix the wait times exists – it’s just being diverted. I doubt most passengers know that a portion of the security fee they pay with every flight is being used for other purposes. With peak travel season starting this weekend, Congress needs to direct all of the designated funds towards the intended purpose in order to improve the efficiency of airport screening and keep passengers safe.”
A second piece of legislation, introduced last week by Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security Chairman John Katki (R-NY), named the bipartisan Optimization and Efficiency Act of 2016, is aimed at reducing long airport security lines by efficiently reallocating TSA staffing and resources. “Travelers are frustrated with TSA’s bureaucracy – facing longer lines, and in some cases, missing flights and having to return home or stay overnight in the airport,” said Representative Katko in a statement. “This is a crisis that must be addressed before we head into the busy summer months of travel. Today, I’ve introduced legislation which takes the first step in requiring greater coordination between the TSA and local airports so that we can relieve congestion and ensure that travelers are able to make it to their destinations on schedule.”
The new bills were introduced amidst a flurry of requests last week by Homeland Security seeking Congressional reallocation of over $60 million to TSA for the expedited hiring of screeners and overtime pay for current security staff.
Though these new measures were received with applause by the vast majority of the aviation industry, it remains to be seen whether the effects of additional funding and increased efficiency will be realized in time for the fast-approaching summer travel season.