No TSA Chief in Detroit Crisis, Thanks to GOP Senator

Agency leaderless as DeMint blocks nom
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2009 7:29 AM CST
No TSA Chief in Detroit Crisis, Thanks to GOP Senator
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-.S.C.) is the ranking member on the aviation subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.   (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

Democratic leaders and airline industry officials are blaming GOP Sen. Jim DeMint for the fact that the Transportation Security Administration has no chief as it struggles to recover from the terrorist near-miss on Christmas Day. DeMint, chair of an aviation subcommittee, has been blocking the appointment of counterterrorism expert Erroll Southers, though two Senate committees have given him their blessing, because of fears he may allow security screeners to unionize.

An interim head has been running the TSA since January. A spokesman for Harry Reid says the White House is trying to get Southers confirmed as quickly as possible and accuses DeMint of trying to score political points through obstructionism, McClatchy reports. DeMint says that the attempted terror attack on Detroit highlights why the government shouldn't "allow our airline security decisions to be dictated by union bosses." (Read more confirmation vote stories.)

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