Senators look to increase transportation security in wake of Brussels attack

People walk away from the broken windows at Zaventem Airport in Brussels after an explosion on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Explosions, at least one likely caused by a suicide bomber, rocked the Brussels airport and subway system Tuesday, prompting a lockdown of the Belgian capital and heightened security across Europe. At least 26 people were reported dead. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — Senators questioned the head of the Transportation Security Administration before going to the Senate floor to start debating changes to transportation security in the U.S. Wednesday morning.

They want to prevent an attack on the U.S. like the one that left 32 dead in Brussels last month.

Peter Neffenger, TSA Administrator and Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, happened to be at the Brussels airport during the attack.

“Being there on that day, seeing the devastation, seeing the chaos of the airport environment and the evil behind it was a stark reminder of the work we do to protect our travelers,” Neffenger said.

He answered questions on how to prevent a Brussels-like attack in the U.S.

“We have greatly enhanced our oversight of cargo screening facilities, the catering facilities,” he said.

Many of the senators questioning Neffenger planned to go right from the hearing to support a plan that would increase certain security measures in the U.S.

Each proposal is part of a bill more than 350 pages long called the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization.

The changes to security will include doubling the number of bomb-sniffing dogs and the number of visual security outside of checkpoints at airports and transportation hubs.

Some senators also want to create more in-depth background checks on certain airport employees after some in Atlanta were caught smuggling drugs and guns.

“These incidents have raised a lot of questions about if our airports are vulnerable to an insider threat,” said Sen. John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

The bill is one of the few that’s garnered bipartisan support. And for now, is expected it to pass.

Some good news is that travelers aren’t going to be seeing costs go up. The changes are expected to get done without raising taxes or airline fees.

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