Passengers at the nation’s largest airports experienced long lines at some security checkpoints over the weekend, and it’s only likely to get worse, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in a news report from Reuters.
Mandatory spending cuts that went into effect Friday because of the federal government’s sequestration immediately led to the elimination of overtime for Transportation Security Administration officers and customs agents. Upcoming furloughs will only make the situation worse, Napolitano told the news service.
Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport had long lines—between 150 percent and 200 percent delays—Napolitano said, and advised passengers to get to their airports earlier than usual. The TSA website did not show any major delays at any U.S. airport on Monday morning, Reuters said.
Some lawmakers have accused Napolitano and other administration officials of “fear-mongering and exaggerating the impact that would be seen from the deep spending reductions known as the sequester,” which cut a total of $85 billion from government agencies between March 1 and October 1, Reuters said.
But Napolitano said the problems were real.
"Look, people, I don't mean to scare, I mean to inform. If you're traveling, get to the airport earlier than you otherwise would," she said in the Reuters report.
She said TSA would begin sending out furlough notices to employees on Monday and Customs and Border Protection will send them out later this week.