Gimenez Opening Statement on TSA’s Strategy for Summer Travel
Ranking Member Gimenez’s Opening Statement
Thank you, Chairwoman Watson Coleman. I am pleased the Subcommittee is holding this hearing today to discuss how TSA is securing the traveling public and our Nation’s airports as air travel begins to recover.
As we emerge from the pandemic’s devastating toll on air travel and the transportation sector, Americans are increasingly ready to return to travel to conduct business, enjoy vacations, and visit family. I was pleased to see that TSA screened over 2.2 million passengers on Sunday, which is the highest level of air travel volume since March of 2020. In addition, there have been 10 days already this month of over 2 million daily travelers. On my way to DC from Miami yesterday I saw this increased passenger volume first-hand. The lines for security were the longest that I have ever seen there and the line for TSA PreCheck was nearly fifty yards long from front to back. Again, that’s the longest line I’ve ever seen at MIA.
Once international travel rebounds, we may see more volume than pre-pandemic. I remain concerned that staffing shortages at our Nation’s airport checkpoints will continue to grow as passenger volume increases.
I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses about TSA’s efforts to hire additional screeners for summer travel. I believe that an obstacle to recruiting and retaining Transportation Security Officers is that they need to be paid more. Increasing TSO pay is important to maintain a strong front-line workforce to secure the traveling public.
As passenger volume continues to increase this summer and into the fall, it is incumbent upon TSA to facilitate the higher travel volume in an efficient and very secure manner.
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, and I yield back the balance of my time.