TSA Head: Agency Needs More Resources, Help From Passengers to Address Long Security Lines

The head of the Transportation Security Administration said Congress' shifting of $34 million is a "good down payment" but the agency needs greater resources to address a shortage of screeners.

TSA’s Peter Neffenger joined U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Mayor Rahm Emanuel Friday about efforts to address recent delays in getting passengers through airport security. Steps include the immediate deployment of 58 screeners and more canine units for Chicago airports.

Emanuel called delays unacceptable and promised the city would monitor the TSA's progress with an "accountability scorecard."

Congress provided the TSA the $34 million to let the agency pay overtime to existing staff and hire an extra 768 screeners by June 15. Airlines say lines are long because the TSA is understaffed and that travel is expected to hit a record high this summer.

Federal transportation officials say passengers flying out of Chicago can take steps to help shorten time in long security lines.

In a demonstration Thursday at Midway International Airport, TSA spokesman Mark Howell said the agency isn't blaming passengers, but they should be prepared by traveling without prohibited items.

During the demonstration, officials showed the time difference between passengers who go through security with water bottles or knives and those who don't.

The lines are long because of understaffing and more flights. The TSA and Congress cut the number screeners on expectations that an expedited screening program would speed up the lines, but not enough people enrolled.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says the TSA administrator should resign if Chicago delays aren't resolved soon.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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