Senate Bill to Ease Inbound Travel

Washington -- Travel industry leaders are praising the passage last week of a Senate bill that would ease entry into the United States of international travelers.

"We applaud our nation's policymakers for recognizing the importance of international travel to our economic security, our diplomatic efforts, and national security," said Roger Dow, chief executive of the Travel Industry Association, referring to this year's Senate appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security (S. 1644).

The bill authorizes an International Registered Traveler Program. The program is designed so that officials can more quickly process through airport security checkpoints frequent U.S. and international travelers who are entering the United States and whose backgrounds have already been checked via the program. Travel experts contend the program will also enhance security by freeing up officials to concentrate on lesser-known travelers.

The bill also provides $40 million to create a model airports program at the 20 U.S. airports receiving the most overseas inbound travelers. The program would add 200 more U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at those airports.

The Senate Bill must now be reconciled with the House's version of its Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill.

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