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AuburnPub: Congress allows TSA to redirect $34M to hire airport security officers ahead of busy travel

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Pittsburgh, May 12, 2016 | Coleman Lamb ((202) 225-5516) | comments
By Robert Harding

The Transportation Security Administration is getting the help it asked for.

House appropriators approved the agency's request Wednesday to transfer $34 million from its 2016 budget to hire more transportation security officers and pay overtime for its existing personnel ahead of the busy summer travel season.

The Senate gave its approval last week.

Before Congress signed off on the reallocation of funding, TSA officials and some of the nation's busiest airports expressed concern about long lines at security checkpoints.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees three airports in the New York City area, said they would need to hire private security staff if TSA didn't hire more officers.

On Wednesday, three Democratic members of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, which provides oversight of TSA and its operations, urged House appropriators to approved the agency's request.

U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Long Island Democrat and ranking member of the subcommittee, said providing the funding would help TSA, especially as it gears up for the busy travel season.

"We need to act now to get more screeners on the ground at airport checkpoints, or we can expect even longer lines and wait times, more passengers experiencing travel disruptions and more airports forced to consider privatizing security," Rice, D-Garden City, said Wednesday.

Now that Congress has approved the transfer of funds, the TSA will be able to hire 768 new officers and pay overtime for its existing 42,500 officers, according to USA Today.
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