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Congress LGBT Rights

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Katko that would expand an expedited screening program for airline passengers has been held up in the Senate. But the leader of the House of Representatives hopes the chamber will act on the measure — and soon. 

At a press conference Thursday in Washington, House Speaker Paul Ryan urged the Senate pass Katko's bill that would enable more travelers to use the TSA PreCheck program. 

Ryan and other top House Republicans, including Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, view the TSA PreCheck measure as a way to address long lines at security checkpoints — a problem which has affected several airports throughout the country. 

"PreCheck lanes process twice the number of passengers as regular screening lanes," Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said. "This also enhances security, because we're pushing more 'known' and 'trusted' passengers through these lanes. 

"So we have passed this PreCheck bill in the House, and I hope that the Senate will act soon, especially ahead of the busy summer travel." 

The House passed the legislation in July, but it hasn't received a vote in the Senate. 

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, placed a hold on the measure. His issue doesn't appear to be with the bill itself, but rather with the fact that the revenue from the TSA PreCheck program — individuals who enroll must pay an $85 fee — isn't subject to congressional oversight. 

As chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, Katko, R-Camillus, held a hearing Thursday on the local impact of long lines at airports. 

One of the witnesses at the hearing was Christina Callahan, executive director of Syracuse Hancock International Airport. While Syracuse hasn't been plagued by long wait times at security checkpoints, Callahan said one way to address the problem is by increasing TSA PreCheck enrollment. 

Katko hasn't been silent on the status of his PreCheck legislation. Last week, he called on the Senate to pass the bill.

"Expanding the TSA PreCheck program is a common sense, responsible solution to the growing wait lines that are plaguing traveling Americans," he said. "I urge my colleagues in the Senate to act swiftly to remedy this problem." 

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