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Jaime Herrera Beutler’s Bipartisan Bill to Aid Parents Traveling with Infants Passes U.S. House of Representatives

The BABES Act, requiring TSA to better assist parents traveling with breastmilk and formula, advances

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Washington, DC, September 27, 2016 | comments
Today, U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Act (BABES Act) was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives with unanimous support.
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Today, U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Act (BABES Act) was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives with unanimous support.

Jaime introduced the BABES Act in response to reports of traveling parents being subject to inconsistent, harassment-like scrutiny from the Transit Security Administration (TSA) when attempting to travel with breastmilk, formula and infant feeding equipment – items explicitly allowed under TSA guidelines.  The BABES Act would require TSA to better support these air passengers by providing its agents with ongoing training, leading to more consistent enforcement of current procedures across all airport security checkpoints

Jaime partnered with Homeland Security Transportation Security Subcommittee Chairman and Ranking Member, John Katko (R-NY) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY) to introduce this bipartisan legislation, and the Homeland Security Committee unanimously approved the bill earlier this month. 

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte has introduced a companion bill to the BABES Act in the U.S. Senate.

Jaime spoke in support of her legislation on the House Floor (click here to watch):


“Thank you, Chairman Katko for your support and collaboration on this important piece of legislation. Today I’m excited to support a bill that I introduced, a bipartisan bill, the Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Act, or the BABES Act, to ensure that families aren’t penalized for simply trying to travel with supplies and equipment necessary to take care of their babies.

“For parents, working moms, care takers, air travel can present its own unique challenges and to accommodate these challenges, the Transportation Security Administration -- or TSA -- has important exemptions in place that allow passengers to bring breast milk, bottles and feeding equipment through airport security and on board the aircraft. It exempts them from the 3-1-1 Rule. You can imagine how important this is during longer flights for moms who have to be away from their infants for extended periods of time. I have been in this situation, this is critical.

“Unfortunately although this exemption is in place, we’ve seen a problem with compliance. There have been too many instances reported by parents that TSA officials either didn’t know or simply refused to follow these exemptions. Parents who are trying to follow these rules are consistently singled out for harassment-like scrutiny by TSA. This has led to breast milk being forcibly tossed out, equipment being broken and flights missed. Mr. Speaker, a family following TSA’s posted regulations shouldn’t have to have their breast milk thrown out or shouldn’t have to endure the terrible nightmare of missing flights while they are traveling with kids because of the lack of training on the agency’s part.

“The BABES Act is a commonsense measure to hold TSA accountable in upholding its own current regulations and standards so I urge adoption. And I have a couple of letters to add into the record. One from the Academy of Pediatrics in support of this bill and one from the March of Dimes.”

Background

While TSA’s current Special Procedures already explicitly permit parents traveling with infants to bring formula and breast milk that exceed the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule for carry-on baggage, many have experienced inconsistent harassment-like scrutiny that resulted in significant travel interruptions, broken equipment and wasted food. Click here to read the reports of several of these accounts.

 

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