The top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee is pressing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to take immediate action to prepare for longer wait times that are expected at airport security check points throughout the country this summer.
Ahead of the busiest travel months of the year, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) urged TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger to address staffing inefficiencies that may contribute to airport delays and increased wait times.
“I am writing to express the serious concerns I have regarding staffing issues at airports throughout out nation,” Thompson wrote in a letter to Neffenger. “One recurring complaint I hear from airport officials is current staffing allocation models do no adequately correspond with the airport’s needs.”
The agency has said it is expecting higher volumes of passengers and longer lines at airports this summer. TSA cut its screening staff over the past couple of years, anticipating that its PreCheck program would help speed up the overall process, but not enough passengers have enrolled.
Thompson suggested shifting officers from TSA’s controversial behavior-detection program that he said has not been scientifically validated by the agency and for which the Government Accountability Office recommended limiting funding in 2013.
“I believe you should strongly consider the possibility of reallocating these individuals to perform other screening functions within the staffing allocation model,” Thompson said.
In the Senate, lawmakers have weighed in on airport wait times by tacking a provision onto its long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration that would expand enrollment in the TSA PreCheck program. The FAA bill passed the chamber on Tuesday.