President Obama has confidence in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) despite the ease with which undercover agents were able to smuggle explosives into airports, the White House said Tuesday.
“The president does continue to have confidence that the officers of the TSA do very important work that continues to protect the American people,” press secretary Josh Earnest said.
A report released Monday found TSA employees failed to find fake explosives, weapons and other prohibited items in 95 percent of internal tests. The undercover agents successfully evaded security in 67 of 70 tests at major airports.
The report prompted Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to remove the agency’s acting director, Melvin Carraway, who had led the TSA since the beginning of the year.
Earnest said the report raised "specific concerns" about security procedures, but said he expects the agency to adopt its recommendations on retraining employees and retesting screening equipment.
He added that the U.S. has a "multi-layered" security approach that protects travelers.
“The American public should feel confident traveling in airports across the country.”
The White House spokesman chastised senators for acting too slowly on the nomination of Coast Guard Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger as TSA director. He said the upper chamber has held just one hearing on his nomination since Obama picked him in April.
“We would have more confidence if we could have a more permanent, Senate-confirmed director on the job,” Earnest said.
“We would like to see Congress act more quickly to confirm him.”
Lawmakers have criticized Obama for not selecting a permanent leader for the agency more quickly. Longtime TSA director John Pistole announced he would retire in October, and the White House waited more than six months to nominate Neffenger.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE's (R-Ky.) office blamed Obama for the delayed selection of Neffenger and said the nominee has not yet responded to some written inquiries from members of the Commerce Committee.
“I understand the White House is raising some concerns about the lack of a confirmed TSA administrator. But folks, the White House is the cause of the delay," McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said in an email.