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Public Statements

Helping Heroes Fly Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. BROOKS of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 1344) to amend title 49, United States Code, to direct the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security (Transportation Security Administration) to provide expedited air passenger screening to severely injured or disabled members of the Armed Forces and severely injured or disabled veterans, and for other purposes, as amended.


Mrs. BROOKS of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

As a member of the Committee on Homeland Security's Transportation Security Subcommittee, I am proud to be a cosponsor of this commonsense piece of legislation that will increase accessibility and privacy for our wounded warriors at airport checkpoints.

This legislation directs TSA to develop and implement a process to facilitate the ease of travel and, to the extent possible, provide expedited screening through our Nation's airports for severely injured or disabled members of our Armed Forces and veterans. The last thing our heroes need is to face unnecessary scrutiny or hassle, or be forced to answer endless questions about their conditions, when all they want to do is board a plane to fly home to their loved ones or maybe to a job interview.

This bill would ensure that our wounded warriors--those dedicated men and women who have been severely injured while fighting to protect our Nation--are treated with the highest dignity and respect when traveling through our Nation's airports.

I was pleased to find out that shortly after Administrator Pistole testified before the Transportation Security Subcommittee on TSA's efforts to advance risk-based security, TSA began to offer expedited screening services to severely injured members of the Armed Forces and veterans, provided they contact the TSA in advance of traveling. While I support TSA's newly adopted protocols, I feel this bill is necessary because it codifies current TSA policy and ensures that it will remain intact during future administrations.

Mr. Speaker, this bill not only benefits severely injured and disabled members of the United States Armed Forces, veterans, and their accompanying families, but it also supports the TSA administrator's intent to develop a more risk-based method of screening for all passengers.

Expedited travel for our military heroes is an important step toward reasonable transportation security reforms that will allow us to focus precious taxpayer dollars on the unknown travelers and the real threats.

As we look forward to this upcoming Memorial Day, let us honor the all-too-often painful sacrifices our wounded warriors have made for our Nation by adopting this important and commonsense piece of legislation.

I urge my colleagues to support the bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mrs. BROOKS of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

On behalf of myself, as well as Congressman McCaul, the chair of the Homeland Security Committee, we would like to commend Congresswoman Gabbard of Hawaii not only for her service in moving this issue, but for her military service. I'm very proud to be serving with her, and we are so pleased that this is being done in such a bipartisan manner. The Congresswoman from Hawaii and I have enjoyed a new strong friendship, and I hope there are many more bills to come that we can work on together.

I must say that we know that there are so many brave men and women throughout this country who have been severely injured while fighting. In fact, according to the Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University, there are 6,800 working-age civilian veterans in Indiana, alone, who have had the most severe service-connected disability rating.

And this past weekend when I was out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in honor of Armed Forces Day on Sunday and as we swore in the young men and women who have agreed to step up and serve in the National Guard and they were reporting to basic training that day, I knew that this bill was on the House floor this week. It was quite emotional to see these young men and women who we know between them and their families are providing the most incredible sacrifice. I am just very pleased that we are working on this bill in this manner.

To sit by while one of these heroes--and to me, all of these young 18-year-olds to 22-year-olds that I saw in front of me are heroes. We pray that they will not be injured. But those who are injured and who provide that incredible sacrifice cannot be treated like potential enemies here at home, and particularly at our airports. It should put us all to shame. Our wounded warriors are a special group of citizens in this country. They are a trusted group of citizens, and we can and must do more to treat them as such and to recognize their commitment to our Nation. With the Memorial Day holiday fast approaching, this bill is a timely tribute to their sacrifice.

I must also say that this weekend at the Indianapolis 500, before the race, it is the most moving ceremony when our armed services march down Pit Lane, and the quarter of a million people that will be there say it is probably the most moving ceremony they have ever witnessed. So we look not only for safety this weekend at our race, but it is a wonderful reminder of the incredible sacrifice all of the men and women in the military give day in and day out.

I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of H.R. 1344, as amended, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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