H.R. 2217, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

By:  Marsha Blackburn
Date: June 5, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Chairman, when Congress created the Transportation Security Administration in 2001, we defined ``TSA security screeners'' in law as ``Federal security screeners.'' Their role, as defined by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, is to screen passengers and luggage at airports across the country. However, beginning in 2005, TSA administratively reclassified ``TSA security screeners'' as ``transportation security officers'' and proceeded to upgrade their uniforms to reflect those of Federal law enforcement officers with metal officer badges.

My concern and those of many of my constituents is that, despite their appearance, TSA officers do not have any Federal law enforcement training to reflect their current title and appearance. This can be confusing to the traveling public as they interact with TSA officers at airports and now on the highways, at rail stations, ferry terminals, bus stations, and at other mass transit facilities across the country.

I strongly believe that Congress has an obligation to ensure that the title and appearance of Federal employees properly reflects their training and background. Until we are able to pass a legislative fix to correct TSA's administrative decision, we need to use the power of the purse to ensure that TSA screeners are not abusing the current perception that they are trained Federal law enforcement officers.

I would like to commend Chairman Carter and committee staff for their due diligence and dedication in working with my office to address this issue. I am pleased that we were able to reduce screener uniforms by $18 million, a 20 percent decrease, so that we can continue to monitor this issue.

I look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Carter and his staff in moving forward on finding a permanent solution.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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