A severe and troubling scenario for travelers could play out at airports this summer travel season if Congress enacts an amendment by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and John Kennedy (R-LA) to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. 

According to a U.S. Travel Association analysis, the proposed amendment could result in travelers waiting an additional 120 million hours in TSA lines each year by significantly slowing both TSA PreCheck and standard screening lanes. Further, the senators’ proposal threatens national security by effectively banning TSAs use of facial recognition technology for non-PreCheck passengers–which mal-intentioned individuals could exploit.

The proposed amendment to FAA reauthorization is dangerous, costly and threatens to create chaos at America’s airports,” said Geoff Freeman, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. Eliminating the use of biometrics–such as facial scans–will set America back by decades and only misinformed members of Congress are to blame.”

The Merkley/Kennedy Amendment would enforce a complete and total ban on TSAs use of Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) until TSA complies with costly and unworkable requirements, leading to an intense period of expected travel chaos as TSA retrains staff, removes and redeploys technology, and reconfigures screening lanes–all at the expense of aviation security.

The proposal would also ban the use of FRT for non-trusted travelers and stop expansion of FRT matching technology to new airports until May 2027, while stopping expansion and enrollment in TSA PreCheck Touchless Identity Solution beyond existing customers and six airports where it is in use today (ATL, DTW, LAX, LGA, JFK and ORD).

This proposed legislation threatens to turn America’s airports into the equivalent of college bars where fake IDs rule the day,” said Freeman. “TSA, to its credit, is innovating with the latest security technology and members of Congress are threatening to stand in its way–at the expense of the travel experience.”


U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing the $1.3 trillion travel industry, an essential contributor to our nation's economy and success. U.S. Travel produces programs and insights and advocates for policies to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for more information.



Greg Staley

Head of Media Relations

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