Texas lawmakers let pat-down ban die

Texas lawmakers adjourned their special session Wednesday without passing a ban on Transportation Security Administration pat-downs, to the dismay of staunch conservative critics of the agency.

The bill, which would have criminalized touching passengers' genitalia during hand searches at airport security checkpoints, had already been watered down by the Texas Senate. The upper chamber of the Texas Legislature added provisions to allow TSA agents to deliver a hand search if they have a reasonable suspicion one is necessary.

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The provisions were added to the House version of the bill, but the chamber adjourned without taking a vote on the tweaked bill it had already passed.

The bill's sponsor in the Texas House, state Rep. David Simpson (R), vowed Wednesday to try again next year.

"We will never give up the fight for liberty," he said on his Facebook page. "Though we were not successful in passing the TSA bill to protect travelers' dignity, I am continually encouraged by the efforts of so many Texans who have fought hard to see the Constitution upheld."

Democrats in the Texas House were happier about the outcome. 

"It's disconcerting that we spent the last moments of the special session attempting to take a petty political swing at our president," Texas state Rep. Garnet Coleman (D) said in a statement. "The truth is, SB 29 could never have become law because the constitutional deadline for passage in the House had already passed. It was never their intent for this legislation to become law, just to posture and pander for political gain."

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, and the Department of Justice said that it could result in flights to Texas being cancelled.