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.

Jeff Sural serves as counsel in the Legislative & Public Policy Group at Alston & Bird, LLP. He will focus his practice on homeland security and transportation matters on Capitol Hill and in federal government agencies. Read More
  • Anonymous

    There’s a reason for that. TSA is a corrupt and failed agency. TSA has molested more children than Jerry Sandusky.

    Jones is using this to illustrate the folly of TSA’s prized Precheck program that allows elite fliers, 1 million of them out of 700 million passengers each yet, to skip the security lanes, keep their shoes and sweater on and spares them the gropes that the rest of us get.

    Last month TSA in Dallas detained a sick 12 year old in a wheel chair, denied her mother access to her and traumatized her for an hour before suddenly letting he crying girl go.

    Perhaps TSA can explain how any of this is keeping us safe when TSA screeners haven’t caught or even identified one terrorist after 11 years and over $80 billion in funding.

    We would like to know how having 105 TSA workers arrested in the last 24 months including 15 arrested for child sex crimes, 30 for theft, 12 for smuggling and one for murder is acceptable.

    Can TSA explain how having over a dozen screeners smuggling drugs and guns through our airports in the past 24 months is essential to airport security?

    Maybe TSA can explain how keeping a known pedophile, Thomas Harkin, working at Philadelphia airport six months after he was exposed is keeping our skies safe.

    Or how humiliating and exposing a dying woman’s feeding tube at the checkpoint despite her request for a private screening is preventing a terrorist attack.

    Can TSA explain how pulling the dress off of a 17 year old on a church trip and exposing her breasts to her classmates and everyone at the checkpoint is protecting her?

    Maybe TSA can explain how stealing our property is going to prevent another 9/11.

    No planes were hijacked between October 2001 and November 2010 without groping children, strip searching women and stealing our property. No malls have been bombed or attacks made on sports events and TSA is nowhere near those venues so they can’t be credited with protecting airports either These abusive procedures weren’t necessary then and aren’t necessary now.

    This agency has become a national disgrace and is endangering more people than it protects. It is long past time for TSA to be replaced with a sensible system staffed by reputable workers, not criminals.

  • Daisiemae

    I sincerely hope that Mr. Hudson will produce change in this bloated out of control boondoggle (a.k.a. TSA) that has been inflicted on the American public.

    Perhaps Mr. Hudson will be successful in reining in the insane budget of $8 billion per year spent on ridiculous equipment and procedures that have been proven by security experts to be ineffective and even dangerous.

    Perhaps Mr. Hudson will be successful in forcing TSA to follow the law. Perhaps Mr. Hudson will be successful in forcing TSA to follow its own procedures. That alone would be a significant improvement.

    Perhaps Mr. Hudson will be successful in forcing TSA to perform effective background checks (when it performs any background checks at all) and weed out the criminals, perverts, and anti-social misfits that are now rampant in its ranks.

    Perhaps Mr. Hudson will be successful in forcing TSA to be accountable to the American public who pay its bloated salaries.

    Perhaps Mr. Hudson will be successful in ending the discrimination and abuse that is daily heaped upon elderly and disabled Americans by ignorant and abusive TSA personnel.

    Here’s hoping that change in Congressional oversight will indeed be a bad thing for TSA….and a good thing for the American people.