WASHINGTON, D. C. (July 13, 2016) - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) led a group of senators in securing final passage of a provision he introduced earlier this year to enhance U.S. airport and mass transit security. The provision was included in the bipartisan, bicameral Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) extension, which authorizes the agency and its programs through September 30, 2017 and passed the Senate by a vote of 89 to 4. The bill now goes to the President to be signed into law.
The provision expands the number of Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams from the current 30 to as many as 60, to enhance the security presence in pre-screening airport areas and other transportation facilities, especially in non-secure "soft" target areas at airports like check-in and baggage claim areas. The proposal would also update federal security programs to provide active shooter training for law enforcement and increase the presence of federal security teams with bomb-sniffing canines at these non-secure areas.
"In the face of international terrorism, it's critical that we make every effort to secure our airports, train stations, and bus depots--the places Americans rely on to go about their daily lives," said Sen. Heinrich. "After seeing the horrific bombings recently at airports in Istanbul and Brussels, people are rightly focused on their safety and deserve better security when traveling with loved ones. By employing these additional safeguards, we will be better equipped to respond to threats and preserve our freedom to go about our daily lives. I appreciate my colleagues who have joined me in this effort to enact effective measures to keep Americans safe."
The provision was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and and Al Franken (D-Minn.). Earlier this month, the Senate Democrats urged House and Senate members negotiating the FAA agreement to include the provision in the final conference report.