In the old adage, “the only constant is change,” the word “change” could very easily be substituted with: “Congressional excoriation of TSA.” As the 112th Congress drew to a close, I imagine some at the Transportation Security Administration – those who have been there since the beginning – anticipated an end. Not of the Mayan variety, but of the Mica variety.
Congressman John Mica, now former Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I) and long-time TSA critic (insert diplomatic tone here) who proudly refers to the agency as his bastard stepchild, finished his term as Chairman last month. Sorry TSA, but this may only be the beginning again.
Chairman Mica will maintain this title in the 113th Congress by taking the helm of the House Oversight and Government Reform (O&GR) Subcommittee on Government Operations. As a member of O&GR for a number of years, he deftly used his position on this committee to get at TSA, after TSA, interpreting the House Rules, decided they had no obligation to appear before T&I. From his new perch at O&GR, Mr. Mica will have more latitude and authority than TSA claimed he did at T&I to pin top TSA brass to the witness chair.
Regardless of Mr. Mica’s future attention, the agency will have a new overseer in freshman member Richard Hudson (R-NC). Mr. Hudson was just named chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security. Although a freshman, Mr. Hudson is an old hand at Washington politics, having run congressional campaigns and staffing Republican members, including Robin Hayes (R-NC) and Michael Conaway (R-TX).
Mr. Hudson, who ran as a ‘true conservative,’ will look to make his mark with leadership after being awarded a subcommittee chair as a freshman. Based on his campaign rhetoric his agenda will include belt-tightening and a streamlining of the bureaucracy. TSA should prepare for Mr. Hudson as an unrelenting, unsympathetic overseer.
Change in congressional oversight can be a good thing, but rarely for TSA.