GOP Rep. Mica: Privatizing airport screeners would save $1 billion

The law that created the TSA after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which Mica helped write, allowed for airports to "opt out" of TSA screenings. Sixteen airports were chosen in a pilot program; however, TSA decided this year not to expand the program because federal screeners are more cost-effective than bringing in private companies for airport security checkpoints.

The agency maintained that stance Friday.

"It is unclear what these cost estimates are based on," TSA spokesman Nicholas Kimball said in a statement provided to The Hill. "While cost is an important factor — and the best estimates continue to show that private screening contracts cost taxpayers more on average — Administrator Pistole’s primary consideration is security.

"It is critical that TSA retains its ability to operate as a flexible nationwide security network," Kimball continued. "TSA’s capacity to push out intelligence information to our frontline workforce and quickly change procedures based on threat and intelligence is paramount to effective security. Further expansion of privatized screening will increase the complexity of this process."

Mica on Thursday introduced an amendment to the bill containing the 2010 budget of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, that cut $270 million from the security agency's budget for screeners. The measure passed on a 219-204 vote, over the objections of several Democratic lawmakers. 

Read the full Mica report here.