Texas waters down TSA pat-down ban

If the tweaks pass the state House, Texas would still be the first state to restrict TSA's security techniques by criminalizing touching passengers' genitalia.

The bill's sponsor in the Texas House, state Rep. David Simpson (R), has offered the amendments including the Senate changes, which supporters said came at the recommendation of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. But Simpson criticized his own party's Speaker, Joe Straus, for his handling of the bill.

ADVERTISEMENT
"While innocent travelers, including several members of our own House of Representatives, are being violated by government officials simply to be able to access public transportation, our Speaker is content to call attempts to stop this outrage a ‘mockery,’" he said in a statement. "The true mockery that is being made is of the people."

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R), who presides over the state Senate, had more praise for the changes.

"We all want our skies to be safe and we all want to fight terrorism," he said in a statement released by his office. "But airport security must focus on stopping terrorists, not harassing innocent travelers. With the passage of SB 29, the Texas Legislature is not only telling the TSA to change their policies − we're telling the Obama Administration we will not be intimidated and we will vigorously defend our Constitutional rights."

Dewhurst had been criticized for allegedly working to stop the Texas Senate from voting on the TSA bill earlier this spring when the Department of Justice threatened to cancel flights to Texas if airport security procedures were interfered with. 

TSA has argued that the ban would be unconstitutional because the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution allows federal law to trump state law.