Payne, Jr. and New Jersey Delegation Call on TSA to Address Long Wait Times at Newark Airport

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), a member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, led eleven of his colleagues in the New Jersey Congressional Delegation in expressing concern regarding the effects of long wait times and delays at Newark Liberty International Airport on passenger travels plans and commerce. In a letter to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator Peter Neffenger, the lawmakers also requested a written update on TSA’s progress to reduce wait times as well as details about how TSA will ensure improvement in the short and long term.

“Security is the top priority for TSA, as it is for our constituents, airports, airlines, and members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation,” the Members wrote. “However, we remain concerned that wait times at Newark checkpoints continue to be observed in excess of 60 minutes, leading to aggrieved passengers as well as missed flights and delays which cascade to airports across the U.S.  Furthermore, as advocates for New Jersey families and commerce, we are concerned by any inconvenience due to unreasonable wait times at Newark that would cause leisure and business travelers to avoid utilizing the airport.”

“We urge you to keep careful attention on the situation at Newark as TSA works with stakeholders to correct the issues which are leading to unacceptably long wait times at airports,” the Members continued. “ Additionally, we request a written update by June 17, 2016 on the progress and results of TSA’s efforts to reduce wait times through April 2016, including data if available, as well as additional steps that can be taken to return to acceptable wait times for this year’s summer and upcoming holiday seasons.  Further, we are interested in details about how TSA will ensure sustained improvement over the long-term so our constituents can be assured that recent experiences at Newark are not in fact the new normal at the airport.”

Congressman Payne, Jr. has been a leader in addressing long airport wait times and TSA staffing issues. Last week, Congressman Payne, Jr. called on House appropriators to approve TSA’s request to shift $34 million in its FY 2016 budget to hire additional Transportation Security Officers and pay overtime in order to help alleviate long lines and wait times at airports. Following the letter, Congress approved the TSA’s request.

In February 2016, Congressman Payne, Jr. joined U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker and U.S. Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-08) in calling on the TSA to address staffing issues at Newark Liberty International Airport amid significant delays at security check points during peak travel times, including unusually long delays this past holiday season.

Joining Congressman Payne, Jr. in signing today’s letter were U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (NJ) and Cory Booker (NJ) and U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11), Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), Scott Garrett (NJ-05), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Leonard Lance (NJ-07), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12). 

A PDF version of the letter can be found here.