TSA seeks more immediate relief from Congress

TSA seeks more immediate relief from Congress
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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is urging Congress to approve a $28 million funding shift in the agency’s current budget to help ease growing airport security lines ahead of the busy summer travel season.

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The extra cash would allow the TSA to immediately convert 2,784 transportation security officers from part time to full time at 20 of the country’s busiest airports, enabling the agency to screen an additional 82,000 passengers per day, according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

“With the help of Congress, we are working quickly and aggressively to add resources to keep air travelers moving at airports, and to keep them safe,” Johnson said in a statement.

Appropriators already approved a $34 million reprogramming request to allow TSA to hire and train nearly 800 new screeners and provide overtime for current ones. The new officers won’t start until June 15.

Lawmakers have already left for the Memorial Day recess, but members don’t need to be in session to approve the funding shift. The last reprogramming request came during a recess break and Senate appropriators gave their stamp of approval within hours.

Officials testified at a Thursday hearing that moving screeners from part time to full time would not only provide immediate relief to congested airports, since the officers are already trained, it would also help with high turnover rates at the agency.

The attrition rate among full-time officers is 7 or 8 percent, but the figure jumps to 20 percent for part-time workers.

Johnson ticked off other steps the agency is taking to mitigate travel disruptions, including deploying canine teams, setting up a centralized incident command center and giving local airport officials the authority to make resourcing decisions.