Duckworth also led coalition of 70 Congresspeople urging permanent reforms to address long screening lines at airport security checkpoints
Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–June 16, 2016. House Oversight Subcommittee on Transportation Ranking Member Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) today introduced the TSA Workforce Flexibility Act to improve the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) ability to protect our national security and reduce airline passenger wait times by lifting an arbitrary and illogical statutory cap on the number of screeners TSA may employ. In addition to potentially causing needless delays for the flying public, the current cap hinders the TSA’s capabilities to effectively respond to increased terrorism and other threats.
“After spending more than two decades fighting to protect our country, I can’t believe Congress would obstruct our national security professionals’ ability to keep us safe from terrorists and other threats,” said Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. “But that’s just what the illogical cap on TSA screeners does. The cap makes the TSA less able to respond to unpredictable threats—that’s unjustifiable and it’s time for Congress to get out of the way so that those tasked with keeping travelers safe can do their job.”
Duckworth’s legislation is cosponsored by Representative Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Representatives Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Patrick Murphy (FL-18), John Lewis (GA-05), Adam Smith (WA-09), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Brendan Boyle (PA-13) and Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01). The proposal has also been endorsed by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents TSA workers.
“I applaud Rep. Duckworth on the introduction of the TSA Workforce Flexibility Act,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr.“Long lines at airports have shown that Congress has no business predetermining the number of full-time officers TSA can employ. TSA’s staffing decisions should ensure the number of TSOs necessary to screen passengers efficiently and effectively at our nation’s airports and not be limited by an arbitrary cap imposed by Congress.”
In light of recent high-profile instances of passengers waiting for hours in slow-moving screening lines, often missing flights, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and TSA made several immediate—but temporary—improvements to address delays. Congresswoman Duckworth—along with Reps. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Patrick Murphy (FL-18) and John Lewis (GA-05)—led a coalition of 70 House Democrats last week in calling on House Leaders to do more to permanently reduce excessively-long TSA screening lines passengers have been forced to endure at airports around the country. In addition to calling for the screener cap to be lifted in their letter to senior Homeland Security Appropriators, the coalition called for several other substantive reforms and for increased resources to help TSA reduce passenger delays while maintaining a secure and efficient screening process
Last month, Congresswoman Duckworth also wrote to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger seeking a briefing and update on TSA screening time improvements for her Oversight Subcommittee.