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Sen. Charles E. Schumer charged Sunday that the federal government's proposed cargo screening rules would leave gaping holes in New York's air security, putting millions of passengers at risk.

The federal Transportation Security Administration released a plan this month to tighten air cargo security by checking the backgrounds of workers who handle freight and restricting access to sections of airports used for loading and unloading cargo. The plan also requires cargo airlines to screen people who board their planes.

Schumer, D-N.Y., said the rules fall far short of protecting the 9.6 million passengers a year who fly into or out of New York-area airports on jetliners carrying unscreened cargo.

"The holidays aren't just the busiest travel time of the year -- they are the busiest shipping time of the year, too," Schumer said at a news conference. "But even as people getting into planes this weekend see strong new precautions at the gate, the cargo and mail flying in the belly of the plane is still virtually unexamined."