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April 30, 2015

Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Address Vulnerabilities in TSA Expedited Screening

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, along with Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee's Transportation Security Subcommittee, and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee's Transportation Security Subcommittee, introduced H.R. 2127, the Securing Expedited Screening Act, to address serious security vulnerabilities identified by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General and the Comptroller General about how the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) carries out expedited airport checkpoint screening.

The legislation directs TSA to make expedited screening available only to individuals that are vetted participants in the PreCheck program and other known or vetted passengers. Under H.R. 2127, in addition to PreCheck participants, passengers enrolled in Global Entry or other Department of Homeland trusted traveler programs would get such screening as well as passengers in certain age groups, military servicemembers, and other in populations identified by TSA as known and low risk. The legislation will also ensure that if TSA wants to provide expedited screening to passengers outside these groups, TSA could do so by an alternate method, so long as its validity as a secure vetting method is validated in an independent assessment submitted to Congress. Importantly, the bill requires TSA to maintain the availability of expedited screening at or above the current level, even as it refines the population that is eligible for such screening.

Congressman Thompson said the following on the legislation he authored:

"Expedited screening can be a critical aspect to our layered aviation security infrastructure but it must be employed using proven methods that do not create security gaps. After a recent incident and numerous reports, I do not have confidence that TSA's use of random or case-by-case, on-site security risk assessments to identify passengers for expedited screening is keeping us secure. That is why I introduced legislation today to limit expedited screening to certain, known low-risk groups. This bill will also ensure that specific criteria are met if expedited screening is expanded. I thank my colleagues for joining me in introducing this bipartisan legislation."

Congressman Katko released the following statement on the bill: "This legislation seeks to ensure that the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA's) PreCheck program is conducted in a responsible manner, which does not cause unnecessary security vulnerabilities in passenger security screening. As threats to our aviation sector continue to evolve, it is critical that we do not become complacent and that TSA is held accountable for ensuring the security of the traveling public. The risk-based security model, including the Pre-Check program, has been an important step forward in keeping our skies safe and improving the passenger screening experience. I continue to support risk-based security and TSA PreCheck and look forward to seeing the program's continued success going forward. I commend Ranking Member Thompson's work on this critically important issue, and I am proud to cosponsor this bipartisan piece of legislation."

Congresswoman Rice added the following statement: "If you're one of the million-plus people who have submitted your biographic information, undergone thorough vetting and enrolled in the PreCheck program, then it makes sense that you should receive expedited screening. But when a convicted felon and former member of a domestic terrorist organization can be given that same privilege without being vetted, something clearly needs to change. This legislation will ensure that expedited screening is available only to passengers enrolled in trusted traveler programs like PreCheck and other passengers known to be low-risk. This is a common-sense response to a major security gap, and I urge my colleagues to give it their full support."

Bill Fact Sheet

Bill Section by Section

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Media Contacts: 

(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978
(Katko) Erin O'Connor at 202-225-3701
(Rice) Coleman Lamb at 202-225-5516