November 16, 2001
The tragedies of September 11 made it abundantly clear that America needed a stronger airport security system. Congress took an enormous step forward today with the passage of airport security legislation.
No longer will we have low-paid, poorly-trained employees screening passengers and baggage at our airports. Within a year, we will have federal law enforcement personnel at all our nation’s airports. These workers will not have the right to strike and will be fired if they can’t do the job. They must be American citizens. Most importantly, they will be professionals, earning a decent salary and benefits. We simply can’t have a system where security employees at our airports are only on the job for a few months because the pay and benefits are so low. That won’t happen anymore.
This bill also ensures that all checked baggage will be screened for explosives, and expands the federal air marshal program.
We will ensure that individuals seeking flight instruction undergo a background check and an Immigration and Naturalization Service review for foreign service.
I appreciate the hard work done by my Senate and House colleagues who set aside partisan differences and compromising on a common sense security approach for the benefit of all Americans.
Our task isn’t over, however. Implementation is the most important part of this new security approach, and I look forward to working with the Department of Transportation and our local airports, such as SeaTac, in implementing the best airport security system in the world.