U.S. News

Senate passes bill to boost travel security after Brussels

U.S. Army security officers patrol inside New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved legislation that would boost domestic travel security in the wake of the Brussels attacks and authorize the programs of the Federal Aviation Administration through September 2017.

The 95-3 vote sends the measure to the House of Representatives, where lawmakers have been unable to make headway on their own FAA bill because of differences over a provision to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system.

The bipartisan Senate measure, which sidesteps the privatization issue, contains a series of travel security provisions that Senate Republicans have promoted as the most comprehensive increase in airport security in nearly a decade.

The measures include doubling the number of transportation security teams with bomb-sniffing dogs at domestic airports, as well as stronger vetting of airport employees and increased security at check-in and baggage claim areas.

The bill also authorizes spending for FAA operations, airport improvements, aviation research and development, and requires airlines to compensate passengers for lost bags and refund charges for undelivered services.

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune said the legislation would “make travel safe and secure and more passenger-friendly.”

The Senate measure also contains a lengthy section on unmanned aircraft that would require new policy standards for commercial drones involving safety, privacy, design and identification and the use of data gathered by the aircraft.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Andrew Hay