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After subcommittee hearing on airport access controls, Ranking Member Rice highlights need for enhanced screening, background checks and information-sharing

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice, Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, released the following statement today, following yesterday’s subcommittee hearing on access controls at our nation’s airports. The hearing was convened following recent incidents of airport and airline employees bringing prohibited items into secure areas of airports, including the December arrest of five individuals, one of them an airline employee, charged with smuggling guns onto commercial flights from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Statement from Representative Kathleen Rice:

“We had a very productive first hearing yesterday and began a frank, constructive dialogue aimed at correcting what we all agree is a severe vulnerability in our nation’s aviation security system. I look forward to the next hearing and to reading the recommendations in the Aviation Security Advisory Committee’s report when it’s completed, but I think we can already see at least three issues that clearly need to be addressed.

“Number one, we need to beef up employee screening. If an airline employee can get 153 guns into an airport and onto a plane, the current system isn’t cutting it. A passenger or an employee who works at the gate wouldn’t get away with that, because they have to go through metal detectors. I think we need to seriously consider requiring the same measure for airline and airport employees who have access to secure areas.

“Number two, I think we need a requirement under the law that local law enforcement agencies notify federal law enforcement agencies any time an airport or airline employee is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation.

“Number three, a ten year ‘look back’ period for employee criminal background checks is not enough. Criminal background checks should cover at least 20 years, if not more, and they should be recurring, not performed only at the time of hire. That’s just common-sense, and I see no reason why we can’t make those changes.


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