Indiana, Illinois senators win approval for plan to improve air travel for disabled veterans

Passengers make their way through a TSA security checkpoint at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in this file photo.


By DAN CARDEN | The Times | Published: September 13, 2019

MUNSTER, Ind. (Tribune News Service) — The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved a bipartisan proposal authorizing disabled military veterans to speed through airport security lines at no extra cost.

U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., co-sponsors of the Veterans Expedited TSA Screening (VETS) Safe Travel Act, said following the vote that they were grateful all their colleagues could get behind the plan, which now goes to the House.

"As a Marine, I swore always to remain faithful to those serving by my side. That includes ensuring our veterans receive the care and respect they are due after they return home," Young said.

"The passage of this bill has the potential to help the 70,000 amputee, 100,000 paralyzed, and 130,000 blind veterans currently subjected to a rigorous and demeaning screening process when traveling."

If enacted, the VETS Safe Travel Act would permit disabled veterans to enroll for free in the Transportation Security Administration's Pre-Check program.

Pre-Check passengers typically are not required to remove their shoes, laptop computers, liquids, belts or light jackets at airport security checkpoints, and generally can bypass security lines at most airports.

Enrollment requires a background check, fingerprinting and an $85 fee for a five-year membership. It's already offered free to active duty military, reserve and National Guard members.

Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in 2004 when Iraqi insurgents shot down the U.S. Army helicopter she was co-piloting, said the legislation will benefit many veterans with service-connected disabilities.

"For those of us who rely on prosthetics and wheelchairs for mobility, air travel and passing through airport security can be a challenge," Duckworth said.

"I'm glad the Senate passed our bipartisan bill to make TSA Pre-Check available at no cost to these veterans and make flying and passing through airports a little easier and less intrusive."

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