TSA hearing interrupted by bomb threat

TSA hearing interrupted by bomb threat

A Senate hearing about the Transportation Security Administration’s recent failure to identify prohibited weapons in security tests at airports across the country was interrupted on Tuesday by a bomb threat. 

Lawmakers on the Senate Homeland Security Committee were getting their first chance to question officials about the findings of the TSA report, documented a series of undercover sting operations in which agents tried to pass through security with prohibited items; much of its findings remain classified. 

The panel’s chairman interrupted testimony to announce the floor of the Senate Dirksen Office Building where the TSA hearing was being held in was being evacuated

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“We need to… stand in recess for this committee hearing,” Sen. Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonOvernight Healthcare: Senate votes to begin ObamaCare repeal debate | McCain returns to vote | GOP floats scaled-down healthcare bill MSNBC ‘Cartoon of the Day’ shows McCain lying in hospital bed McCain returns to applause, casts deciding vote to advance healthcare bill MORE (R-Wisc.) said. 

“We're clearing the floors,” Johnson continued. “So if you could -- in orderly fashion, please exit in -- as quickly as possible.” 

U.S. Capitol Police said they were responding to a bomb threat that was called in about the room next to the one where the TSA hearing was taking place Tuesday morning. 

“‎The USCP received a phone call reporting a suspicious package in room SD-G40 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building (DSOB),” the agency said in a statement. “Several floors in the D‎SOB have been evacuated as a precaution while the USCP continues to investigate.” 

Prior to the evacuation, lawmakers were taking TSA officials to task for last week’s report that showed undercover agents made it through security in nearly all the tests — 67 of 70 — including one instance in which a TSA screener failed to find a fake bomb even after the undercover agent set off a magnetometer. 

The screener in that case reportedly let the agent through with the fake bomb taped to his back, having missed it during a pat-down.

Homeland Security Committee officials have said that they are not going to resume Tuesday’s hearing. 

-Jesse Byrnes contributed to this report.