WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., on Wednesday questioned Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Wicker used his questioning to focus on improved security and efficiency at Mississippi airports.
Specifically, Wicker mentioned the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport’s $1.5 million expansion project to add an additional screening lane in each concourse. The additional lanes are needed to prevent long wait times during peak hours and to make TSA PreCheck available at the state’s largest airport. “Here’s our problem,” Wicker told Pekoske. “We don’t have an assurance from your agency that they will staff and provide the necessary resources for these additional lanes.”
The TSA Administrator responded, “Yes, I can absolutely commit to working with you on that.”
Wicker also raised concerns about the numeric formula used by TSA in determining when to remove baggage screening equipment. The removal of this equipment could deter carriers from servicing Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and other small and medium-sized airports. Wicker has previously worked with the TSA to prevent the removal of three of Gulfport-Biloxi’s six baggage scanners.
Pekoske told Wicker other factors would be considered in the decision to remove screening equipment, such as history, costs, and building design. Pekoske also said he would personally ensure the agency is working with local airports in Mississippi.