Massive airport security lines across the country are frustrating travelers and creating pressure for Congress to do something about the problems at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
With summer travel season approaching, lawmakers have been scrambling to schedule hearings, meet with TSA officials and explore their legislative options.
The uproar is being further fueled by a social media campaign, “I Hate the Wait,” that has been drawing attention to overwhelmed security lines where passengers have at times waited for hours, missing their flights and getting stranded at airports overnight.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has called on TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger to resign if he does not effectively mitigate travel disruptions by Memorial Day weekend.
Congress already approved a $34 million funding shift in TSA’s current budget to hire and train nearly 800 new screening officers and provide overtime for current ones.
But some travel advocates worry that the help might not come soon enough, with one of the busiest travel weekends of the year just around the corner.
A House-passed bill to expand TSA’s PreCheck program remains stalled in the Senate, and many lawmakers are reluctant to provide significant funding boosts to the unpopular agency.
“You can acknowledge a problem, commit to solving it and even pass legislation, but that doesn’t mean that help is going to be on the way by next weekend,” said Jonathan Grella, executive vice president of public affairs for the U.S. Travel Association. “The lines will likely get worse before they get better.”