CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5338, the Checkpoint Optimization and Efficiency Act of 2016, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on May 26, 2016, by Rep. John Katko (R-NY) and was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security.
H.R. 5338 establishes procedures to reduce passenger wait time at airports and increase passenger screening operation efficiency. Specifically, this legislation requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to conduct an assessment of the TSA Staffing Allocation Model to determine the validity and usefulness of such model. The assessment would take into account Transportation Security Officers, the use of explosives detection canines, and the role technology plays in the passenger screening operation. Upon completion of the assessment, TSA is required to share the findings with air carriers, airport authorities and screener workforce labor organizations in a “Staffing Allocation Working Group” forum. The Staffing Allocation Working Group will consist of representatives from TSA, air carriers and airport authorities. This legislation also requires the Administrator to reallocate available TSA personnel, specifically Behavioral Detection Officers, to the screening checkpoints into positions commensurate with their training, afford Federal Security Directors additional flexibility to make more timely staffing decisions, and expand efforts to enroll the public into the TSA PreCheck program. Additionally, the bill requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of the TSA Staffing Allocation Model and the TSA Administrator to report to Congress regarding how explosives detection canines can be deployed for maximum efficiency and the status of the Credential Authentication Technology Assessment program.
Over the course of the last few months, security screening lines and wait times at airports nationwide have skyrocketed. According to just one executive, more than 70,000 passengers on American Airlines have missed their flights this year due to “excessive wait times”. Airport and airline stakeholders have consistently stated that there needs to be more local authority to TSA officials for adequately staffing and optimizing security checkpoints.
The House has previously voted on two pieces of legislation to reduce wait times, which are awaiting action in the Senate. H.R. 2843, the TSA PreCheck Expansion Act passed the House on July 27, 2016 by voice vote. The legislative digest can be found here. In addition, H.R. 3584, the Transportation Security Administration Reform and Improvement Act of 2015 passed the House on February 23, 2016 by voice vote. The legislative digest for this bill can be found here.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “Travelers are frustrated with TSA’s bureaucracy – facing longer lines, and in some cases, missing flights and having to return home or stay overnight in the airport. This is a crisis that must be addressed before we head into the busy summer months of travel. Today, I’ve introduced legislation which takes the first step in requiring greater coordination between the TSA and local airports so that we can relieve congestion and ensure that travelers are able to make it to their destinations on schedule.”
 See Time “Airline: 70,000 Passengers Missed Flights Due to Security Lines” May 26, 2016.
 See Committee on Homeland Security Press Release, “Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend, Committee Introduces Bill to Reduce Airport Wait Times” May 26, 2016.
 See Rep. Katko’s Press Release, “Katko Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Maximize Efficiency & Transparency at TSA, Reduce Airport Wait Times” May 26, 2016.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate is not currently available.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.