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Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Congress passed a comprehensive plan today to secure the nation's skies and airports.

Wyoming Senators Craig Thomas and Mike Enzi said the legislation represented the best techniques and procedures for protecting air passengers in the wake of the September 11 highjackings.

"Congress has acted swiftly to provide new technology and new resources to protect Americans from terrorist attacks," Thomas said. "Safe and secure civil air transportation is a hallmark of our freedom that must be further secured without delay."

"While I disagree with the provision to fully federalize airport screeners and would have preferred new standards and law enforcement oversight, this bill needed to be passed and delivered to the President," Thomas said.

"This bill will mean the enactment of strong, common sense security measures that I believe will give Americans more confidence to fly. That is very important right now," said Enzi. "Ideally this bill would not have contained the degree of federalization that it does. I remain convinced that local officials have the ability to best address national security needs at their airports. I'll be closely monitoring the practical application of this legislation and especially how it effects rural airports."

Among the major features of the airport security law are:

• Fortified cockpit doors and the requirement that they are locked during flight;

• Air marshals could be placed on every flight and must be placed on all high risk flights;

• Anti-hijacking training for flight crews;

• Extensive background and criminal history checks on security screeners;

• Screeners must be U.S. citizens and have ability to communicate in English;

• Law enforcement agents stationed at every screening checkpoint;

• Screening activities will be directly supervised by uniformed officers employed by the U.S. Department of Transportation;

• Modification of aircraft transponders to prevent them from being turned off during flight;

• Establishes demonstration program that would allow five airports to use private screeners under federal supervision;

• Airports may switch to private contractors in three years if they meet federal standards.

The Senate passed the measure by a voice vote. The House passed it 410-9. The President is expected to sign the bill.