Reid to try to break hold on TSA nominee

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will make a parliamentary move to ensure the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s Transportation Security Administration nominee next month.

Reid’s office announced Tuesday the leader will invoke a cloture vote on the nominee in order to end debate and vote on the matter. Political fighting around the failed bombing of a Christmas flight to Detroit has intensified in the past several days.

{mosads}Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has held up the nomination of Erroll Southers to head the TSA, which handles security at the nation’s airports. Reid spokesman Jim Manley labeled DeMint’s hold on Southers as “outrageous” Tuesday as Democrats sought to cast Republicans as a party obstructing tighter security at airports.

DeMint has held up the nomination because of concerns about the unionization of TSA workers, but he also linked his effort to the attempted terror attack in Detroit.

That attack is a “perfect example of why the Obama administration should not unionize the TSA and allow our airline security decisions to be dictated by union bosses,” DeMint said in a statement.

DeMint said that if TSA workers were unionized under Southers, “union bosses” would have the power to delay further security improvements to airports.

“I hope this incident will lead the president to rethink this policy and put the interests of American travelers ahead of organized labor,” DeMint said.

The Senate isn’t set to reconvene until Jan. 19, although pro forma sessions are scheduled as early as Jan. 5.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said Tuesday that TSA needs an administrator to run at full capacity and suggested security could be weaker because of the lack of leadership.

“If TSA is to become the kind of nimble, responsive organization the American people deserve in times like this, it will need a Senate-confirmed administrator,” he said. “If nothing else, the events of last week highlighted this lack of leadership.”

Tags Barack Obama Harry Reid

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