Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Party of No prevents President from filling critical TSA slot

Perhaps the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could have improved on the Bush-era screening policies if Republicans in the Senate had allowed a vote to confirm President Obama's nominee.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has had a "hold" on the nomination of Erroll Southers to head the TSA since early December.
The attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound flight has re-ignited debate in the Senate over President Obama's nominee for chief of the Transportation Security Administration, which has been without a permanent leader since Obama took office.

It took the president eight months to nominate someone for the post, but that nomination has since been held up by objections from Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who fears nominee Erroll Southers will unionize TSA screeners.
Mr. Southers has appeared for confirmation hearings before two committees who recommended his nomination. He has also written to Sen. DeMint to assure him that he won't make any decisions that would compromise security.

Sen. DeMint, however, continues to play politics and petulantly insists on an unambiguous yes or no answer. After all, that is the prerogative of a single senator, especially one who sees personally gumming up Senate business as a virtue.

In the meantime, the TSA remains without a permanent administrator.


Pino said...


I can understand the urgency of the Obama administration to fill this very crucial role. Of course, the role IS currently filled, just with a Bush era appointee.

Further adding to the Democrats cry that this is a critical appointment is the urgency with which the Obama acted in nominating Mr. Southers. Obama took office January 20 ish and absolutely put this nomination in the fast track. In fact it only took him....what? It took him 7.5 months?


So really, the Obama admin didn't feel urgency to fill this nomination AND we have a TSA head with years of experience in the job.

Not that the TSA is the answer to anything related to security.

Dave Ribar said...

This justifies Sen. DeMint's hold how?

If you've ever served in an organization with an "acting" director, you'll certainly realize that big decisions are generally deferred pending the arrival of the permanent director (acting directors generally don't want to tie the hands of the next administrator).

The President made his decision by Aug. 7 and had briefed Senate leaders. Hearings were held in Oct. & Nov.

The President also campaigned on the very issue that Sen. DeMint is complaining about. So what is the point of the hold?

Pino said...

The President campaigned on many things that haven't really panned out for us.

The point of the hold may be that the man simply isn't qualified. A very strong indicator of such is the idea that any organization Ought Unionize.

Consider that UAW members are more loyal to the UAW than to the people they work for.

Pino said...


Just saw that Mr Southers used his position to spy on personal relationships:


Do you still think that he is qualified?

Dave Ribar said...


The information has been out there for some time. Southers admitted to a very serious mistake that he made 20 years ago and was disciplined for it. The basic information was disclosed at the time that he was nominated.

Given his subsequent record, I think that he is qualified. From the article that you sent, Senators Collins and Leiberman agree. If other Senators disagree, let them vote no (actually, let them vote, period).

Note that the information that you are referring to was all hashed out 10 days before Sen. DeMint's hold. Sen. DeMint has not asked for additional information about this. So, it seems immaterial to his hold.

Pino said...

His mistakes didn't ALL seem to take place 20 years ago:

"But after the committee approved his nomination and sent his name to the Senate, Southers wrote back and said that he actually personally ran background checks twice."