TSA plans hiring spree to speed up airport wait times

The Transportation Security Administration wants to immediately deploy 768 new officers to the nation's airports to help relieve security checkpoint bottlenecks before they worsen as the busy summer travel season approaches.

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This week the Senate approved a request by the Department of Homeland Security to shift $34 million in the TSA budget to expedite the hiring of the front-line security officers. Some of the funds would also go toward paying existing officers to work overtime at busy airports.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee still needs to agree to the plan.

Lawmakers are now considering the request, committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said.

The TSA hopes to have the new officers in place this month.

The hiring surge would reverse a trend of TSA cutbacks at airport checkpoints that began in 2013.

The agency has struggled with congressional budget cuts and focused more resources on airport security behind the scenes.

“As we look ahead to the surge in summer travel, we will continue to consider a number of other steps to ensure enhanced aviation security while also maximizing efficiency at check points,” Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

Passengers across the country have endured unusually long lines at TSA checkpoints.

The agency has pinned the increased wait times on a combination of factors, including an unexpected spike in air travelers and new screening procedures.