Dold introduces bipartisan bill to ease long security lines at airports

Legislation recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL) would ensure that revenues collected from airline passengers are used to finance the costs of security screening at airports.

The Funding for Aviation Screeners and Threat Elimination Restoration (FASTER) Act, H.R. 5340, would end the practice of diverting one-third of airline passenger fees to offset spending elsewhere in the budget, which began in 2013.

“The unnecessarily long lines for screening at O’Hare and Midway are absolutely unacceptable and have been caused in no small part because a bill that was passed in 2013 played political games with TSA’s budget,” Dold said. “9/11 security fees being charged to airline passengers should be used only to make flying a safe and burden-free experience, but right now the government is taking money from passengers to make up for years of unrelated and out-of-control spending. Our bill puts passengers before politics to ensure that there are no more missed flights because of long lines and political gimmicks.”

Under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, $12.6 billion in airline passenger fees established under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act was diverted away from airport screening measures over a 10-year period.

In fiscal year 2015, passengers paid $3.5 billion in aviation passenger fees. However, only $2.3 billion of that amount was used to pay for the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) $6.8 billion in costs for aviation security.

The FASTER Act would increase funding for TSA to hire additional transportation security officers and to pay overtime wages to help alleviate long wait times at airports.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the ranking member of the House Transportation and Security Committee and a cosponsor of the bill, said that funding to fix long wait times airports exist, but it is 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,” DeFazio said. “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.”

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee and a cosponsor of the bill, said that the TSA needs “an infusion of resources to be able to invest in its people and technology.”

Kevin Burke, the CEO and president of the Airports Council International-North America, said that Congress should immediately end the practice of diverting billions of dollars away from the TSA’s core mission.

“Our passengers deserve better, especially considering they pay for civil aviation security services through the 9/11 Passenger Security Fee every time they buy a plane ticket,” Burke said. “They should be getting their money’s worth instead of subsidizing other federal spending. The bipartisan DeFazio-Thompson-Dold bill is the right solution.”

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