GOP denies TSA money to buy more body scanners

The Transportation Security Administration's request to expand its controversial body scanner program was rebuffed this week by a Republican-led House committee.

The $40.6 billion Department of Homeland Security 2012 budget released this week by the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee denies the request from President Obama to provide TSA with $76 million to buy 275 more scanners.

The measure includes $7.8 billion for the TSA, which Republicans said was a $125 million increase from current levels but $293 million less than the administration's budget request. But the much-maligned body scanners were a no-go. 

The scanners would have been operated by 535 TSA employees.

Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement that the budget made "the most of our limited resources," and allowed lawmakers to "rein in unnecessary and wasteful spending in virtually every area of government — including homeland security."

"This legislation will prioritize funding for frontline operations and programs to uphold the highest level of national security, while trimming back budgets in less essential areas,” said Rogers.

TSA's scanners have been criticized for invading passengers' privacy and possibly exposing them to radiation. TSA Administrator John Pistole has defended them, saying in a speech in March that they were "the best possibility we have right now of detecting Christmas Day … type explosives," a reference to a thwarted 2009 bombing attempt on a Northwest Airlines flight bound for Detroit.

TSA has come under fire recently for the technique it uses when passengers do not want to go through body scanners: pat-downs. Reports have surfaced of a six-year-old girl and an eight-month-old baby being patted down by TSA agents.   

The legislation is scheduled to be marked up by the House Homeland Security subcommittee Friday.