By Jeff Plungis
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration missed a deadline imposed by Congress to let members of the U.S. armed forces use faster security lines at airports, the law's author said.
"I'm telling you the intent of the law is not being followed," Representative Chip Cravaack, a Minnesota Republican, said at a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing today, noting the agency had 180 days to implement the mandate. "We took Iraq in less time."
The law, signed by President Barack Obama in January, requires expedited screening at all U.S. airports for military personnel in uniform, carrying military ID and signed orders, Cravaack said.
That's enough to gain access to U.S. military installations, so it should be enough to board a commercial plane, said Cravaack, a former member of the Navy and airline pilot.
Republicans in Congress have pushed TSA to speed up checks of many passengers, saying fliers who have lower risk profiles shouldn't go through the same screening procedures as passengers whom the airlines don't know anything about.
The TSA allows military personnel to use shorter lines with fewer screening rules at two airports, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said Chris McLaughlin, the agency's assistant administrator for security operations.
The agency won't expand the policy to all 35 airports in its PreCheck expedited screening program until the end of 2013, McLaughlin said. TSA believes it's in compliance with the law, he said.
"We're working hard on a daily basis to become a smarter agency," McLaughlin said.