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Archive for Tuesday, November 29, 2011

House votes to ease airport screening for troops

November 29, 2011

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— The House on Tuesday voted unanimously to allow military travelers on official duty to get a special preference to move through airport security checks faster.

The bill, approved 404-0, would give the Homeland Security Department six months to devise a preference system for the Armed Forces. The legislation went to the Senate.

If the bill becomes law, the earliest beneficiaries would likely be troops returning from Afghanistan next year and their family members, who also would receive preferential treatment.

The government already has initiated, and is expanding, a more intelligence-driven trusted traveler program for civilians. Participants include travelers in American and Delta airlines’ frequent flier programs as well as people who are part of three other programs. These people volunteer more information about themselves so that the government can vet them before they arrive at airport security checkpoints.

Chief sponsor Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., said it takes longer for men and women in uniform to pass through security because of their gear, medals on their uniforms and boots that must be unlaced. Allowing them through security more quickly would speed up the waiting time for those not part of a preference program, he said.

While Homeland Security would establish the new preferential system, Cravaack envisions troops not having to remove boots, belt buckles, bulky military jackets and medals. Troops could go to the front of the line, or a separate line could be created.

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