Lawmakers introduce bill that would allow more airports to use private screeners

Proposed legislation would require TSA to act on applications to the Screening Partnership Program within 120 days


Republican lawmakers on Friday introduced a bill that would allow airports to replace Transportation Security Administration screeners with private screening companies through the Screening Partnership Program.

The bill, called the "Security Enhancement and Jobs Act of 2011" (H.R. 1586), was introduced by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

Earlier this year, TSA Administrator John Pistole announced that the agency would not expand the program beyond its current 16 airports.

However, according to a statement issued by the House Homeland Security Committee, H.R. 1586 would require "TSA to act on applications within 120 days of receiving them, approving them if they would not compromise security or the effectiveness of screening or adversely affect TSA's mission. The legislation also requires TSA to reconsider any applications pending at the time of Pistole's announcement."

"The private sector includes invaluable partners in national and homeland security, and we need to make sure that the Department of Homeland Security is working to encourage participation of private companies providing security services, not hinder it. This legislation brings necessary transparency to the TSA's decisions to approve or deny opt-out applications by airports. As long as security is not compromised, airport operators should have the flexibility of determining whether to employ all-federal screeners or private screeners," King said in the statement.