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Bob D.
Republican IL 10

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  • Checkpoint Optimization and Efficiency Act of 2016

    by Representative Robert J. Dold

    Posted on 2016-06-07

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    DOLD. I, certainly, thank my good friend from New York for yielding the time.

    I thank my friend from Mississippi, who talked a little bit before about the bill that we are working on together, that being the FASTER Act, which I do believe is a step in the right direction.

    Mr. Speaker, I represent a district just north of Chicago, so the airport that I go in and out of right now is Chicago's O'Hare--the busiest airport in the country. In fact, we believe about 77 million passengers are going to go through O'Hare this year--77 million. It is not uncommon, obviously, for me to go there and have extremely long wait times at the TSA. Unfortunately, what we have seen more recently is these wait times continuing to build--to build so much that, actually, the wait time is longer than the flight, itself, which, to me, is completely unacceptable. Frankly, the American public deserves a little bit more accountability.

    Over the past few weeks, these long wait times, obviously, have been exacerbated, so we have put on a Band-Aid--a patch--to try to make sure that we have a little bit more staffing at some of these busiest of airports around the country, and we have seen those wait times come down. Yet what we do know is that people are missing their flights. People who have missed their flights, at least in the last couple of weeks, have been able to be put on flights without too much inconvenience. If this were to happen this summer, the chances are, at least from the airlines, they wouldn't be able to get on their flights for a week or more, which could completely disrupt family vacations and the like.

    The current screening procedures need to be updated to ensure that we protect passengers from terrorist threats and to make sure that passengers are screened in the most efficient manner possible. This is, really, a two-pronged approach. In one, my friend from Mississippi talked about the FASTER Act, which is, again, trying to make sure that the resources that passengers pay are actually going toward the TSA to make sure that it has the manpower necessary to do the screening.

    Today's bill, the Checkpoint Optimization and Efficiency Act, will go a long way towards ensuring that the TSA updates the screening procedures to improve customer service at the Nation's busiest airports. This bill will ensure that TSA position screeners are where they are needed most, which, I think, is absolutely critical. The bill will allow the TSA to reallocate K-9 teams to the Nation's busiest airports or where they are needed. K-9 detecting teams are a vital tool in ensuring the quick and effective screening of passengers.

    Mr. Speaker, just this last week, I was at O'Hare. I went down and had an opportunity to talk with some of the K-9 screeners in Chicago. One actually came from Fairbanks, Alaska, and the other one came in from Cincinnati.

    {time} 1600 There is no question that there was a huge issue at O'Hare that needed to be rectified, and what this legislation does--and the gentleman from New York proposes--will allow that flexibility to happen.

    Finally, I want to just talk about the TSA's Federal Security Directors and making sure that they are placed at the busiest airports and have some of the flexibility that they need to make the staffing decisions that are best for the people.

    The bill today, I believe, will go a long way toward alleviating the crisis at our busiest airports around the country and will help make sure that our hours-long wait times will be reduced and diminished.

    I certainly hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will support this legislation.

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