Lawmakers working to tighten security at US airlines

Nexstar talked to lawmakers about bills that could impact your next vacation

Traveling home after the Thanksgiving holiday has been smooth across the country.
Travelers line up at a security checkpoint area in Terminal 3 at O'Hare International Airport on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in Chicago (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – About 3.5 million people will fly during the July 4 holiday, according to AAA.

Many more will take vacations throughout the summer.

Congress is working to make air travel safer and more comfortable.

When lawmakers get back to Washington, the House and Senate will each consider their versions of the FAA Reauthorization Act. The biggest debate may be about privatizing air traffic control.

Nexstar talked to lawmakers about other issues included in the bills that could impact your next vacation.

Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth is working to make airports more accommodating for mothers. She wants to require mid-to-large size airports to have private nursing room in each terminal.

“When I was nursing my daughter when I was traveling, I found it inordinately difficult to try and express breast milk,” she said.

Duckworth said many moms now resort to using a bathroom stall to feed their babies while traveling.

“If you wouldn’t expect your fellow travelers to eat a sandwich in a toilet stall. Why would you expect a nursing mom to nurse or express breast milk in one?” she asked.

Michigan Senator Gary Peters is focused on airport security.

After the stabbing in Flint, Michigan earlier this year, Peters added amendments that would allow airports to use existing improvement funds to pay for security updates.

“Every time you buy an airplane ticket, there’s a service charge on there. That goes to support infrastructure in airports, but unfortunately, they can’t be used for security infrastructure,” he said.

Peters wants to see barriers that prevent vehicles from ramming into crowds, bulletproof protections for security guards and more surveillance cameras in areas before the TSA screening zones.

“That’s really where the vulnerability is for airports now. You have people congregating, not enough security there,” Peters said.

Inside the airplane, Indianapolis Congressman Andre Carson wants to require all new planes to have a secondary secure barrier protecting the cockpit.

“If pilots have to go to the restroom and they want to stretch, they’re still vulnerable,” Carson said.

Both Carson and Peters said travelers have no reason to worry about their safety as they head out on summer vacations, but there is room for U.S. airlines to improve.

“We don’t want to alarm anyone, but at the same time, it’s a necessary inconvenience as we move forward,” Carson said.

Timing on the House and Senate votes is still up in the air, but lawmakers need to pass the FAA Reauthorization Act before their August recess.

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