Travel groups are voicing their support of a bill that would modernize the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with a variety of screening enhancements.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and the U.S. Travel Association are lobbying for the TSA Modernization Act, introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) in September, which would update security technology and expand the PreCheck program. The bill remains in the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
In the past year alone, the TSA has experienced two out of 10 of the busiest days in its history. The bill aims to ease some of this congestion while improving security measures. A provision would allow the agency to deploy “biometric technology at checkpoints, screening lanes, bag drop and boarding areas, and other areas where such deployment would enhance security and facilitate passenger movement.”
Additionally, the bill aims to expand the PreCheck program, which provides for expedited screening for low-risk travelers, with a goal of 15 million people registered in the program by 2020, upping enrollment by 10 million from the current 5 million.
“One thing we would love to see, and this legislation does include, is kiosks at the airport that do all of the application process for PreCheck,” Lorraine Howerton, senior director of the U.S. Travel Association, told the Washington Examiner. “Currently as it stands, you have to go and get your fingerprint taken, and you have to look for a facility where you can actually do that. So, third parties involved in the process allow for flexibility in getting folks to sign up.”
Last month, a coalition of eight travel industry organizations sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., advocating for the legislation and citing that in 2016, TSA screened more than 100 million travelers more than they did in 2013.
Andrew Meehan, vice president of government relations at GBTA, told the paper, “It’s always been a priority for the GBTA to support PreCheck because it’s one of those things that increases security, while at the same time, facilitates travel.”