GOP chairman: TSA was a 'big mistake'

GOP chairman: TSA was a 'big mistake'
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House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterEx-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm K Street boom extends under Trump, House Dems Ex-GOP congressman heads to investment bank MORE (R-Pa.) said Wednesday that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) should never have been created.  

"I believe we made a big mistake in 2002 or 2003 when we set up the TSA," he told reporters in a briefing at the Capitol.

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"The Transportation committee... had experts from the British, the Germans, the Israelis all come testify before the committee and overwhelmingly they told us don't set up a federal [agency]."

The TSA was set up by Congress in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The agency has become a lightning rod in the years since, a punching bag for Republicans who complain its workforce has grown too large and its security techniques invade passengers' privacy. Republicans, though, controlled Congress when the TSA was created.

Shuster said Wednesday it would have better in hindsight if lawmakers left the job of securing the nation's airports to private security companies. 

"Have federal regulators looking, but allow the private sector to do the work," he said.

The TSA has been moved into the Department of Homeland Security, so it now falls outside of the House Transportation Committee's jurisdiction. 

Shuster noted that it has taken other nations with federal agencies responsible for airport security decades to reduce their scope.  

"Britain did that in the sixties and then it took them 20 years to unwind it to where they are today where they have a TSA kind of group that is much smaller and there job is make sure the folks that are doing those jobs are doing well," he said.

TSA officials often point to Congress' role in creating the agency to rebut criticism from lawmakers who now question its necessity. 

"The Aviation and Transportation Security Act, passed by the 107th Congress and signed on November 19, 2001, established TSA and required the completion of more than 30 mandates by the end of 2002," the agency said on its website. "In the largest civilian undertaking in the history of the United States, TSA met each one of these initial requirements."

The TSA has grown since its inception to have more than 50,000 employees.