Reports surfaced late Thursday of stunning lapses in the nation's airport protection program prompting Washington lawmakers to demand an accounting of how many airport security badges have been lost or stolen around the country.
An NBC News investigation revealed the massive size of the problem.
"Clearly there are an awful lot of things falling through the cracks and there's just no room for error when it comes to this issue. We need answers. They're not providing them," said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who chairs the Transportation Committee.
The Transportation Security Administration must now directly address the concerns after receiving a formal request for information from Thune and two other members of the committee.
It was reported in March that more than 1,400 of the badges, which allow employees to access secure areas like runways and boarding gates, went missing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport over approximately two years. And that's just one airport in the nation's network of hundreds.
This week NBC San Diego reported that more than 270 badges went missing at the San Diego International Airport in the last two years, proving the nation's airports are highly insecure.
Many of the wayward badges were not reported for weeks or months meaning anyone could have accessed the airport during that time.
Workers are required to report a missing badge within 24 hours.
The senate investigation is ongoing.