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Who Holds Jurisdiction over the TSA?

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The Aviation Subcommittee held a hearing on Thursday, November 29. Acting Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, Charles Edwards, and Government Accountability Office Director of Homeland Security, Steve Lord, offered their findings regarding multiple TSA-related investigations and complaints. However, one glaring absence was clearly evident. The government-owned and operated Transportation Security Agency, or TSA, was not in attendance.

In a release issued earlier this week, TSA Administrator John Pistole made a statement claiming the committee held no authority over the government agency.

 “By U.S. House of Representatives rules which state that the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has no jurisdiction over the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), no representative from TSA will be present at the Subcommittee on Aviation hearing scheduled for Nov. 29.”

At the start of the hearing, Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-Wisconsin) offered his remarks regarding the apparent shirking of congressional oversight.

“The TSA itself has chosen not to participate in this hearing. If we want more government stove piping, separation from one sector and another, the TSA’s attitude and actions regarding this hearing achieve that end. But if we want better government and coordination between different government activities, Congress must be able to fulfill its oversight responsibilities”

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Florida) gave his remarks on the current state of the TSA as well:

 “Having been involved in TSA since its inception and one of the individuals responsible for its original creation of course I’ve been one of its strongest critics since it sort of spun out of control… We need to be closing down TSA as we know it and instituting a safer more secure, less bureaucratic, and more effective system.”

Mica has led the effort to enable airports to opt-out of TSA screening services to be replaced with private security companies under federal supervision.

In essence, the government refused to answer questions it was asking itself. This begs the question, who holds jurisdiction over the TSA? As a child agency of the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA now resides under the jurisdiction of the Transportation Security Committee chaired by Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), a subcommittee of the Committee on Homeland Security headed by Peter King (R-New York).

This is the latest Transportation Security subcommittee hearing with TSA witness testimony:

Squabbles regarding oversight of the TSA between the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Committee on Homeland Security are nothing new. Since oversight was consolidated with King’s committee in 2010 the TSA has frequently avoided T&I requests for testimony on hearings.

When the 113th Congress convenes in January, it is unlikely that committee oversight will change hands. Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) is on deck to replace Mica in 2013 as chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

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Cassidy Noblejas Bartolomei
Cassidy Noblejas Bartolomei

"In essence, the government refused to answer questions it was asking itself." Eek that can't be good :/

Marc Schenker
Marc Schenker

I wonder how many TSA agents are letting suspicious people through while aggressively patting down 97-year-old grannies in wheelchairs and 2-year-old boys licking their lollipops?

Elizabeth Conley
Elizabeth Conley

Congress cannot affort their current toothless, spineless reputation. Congress would be wise to defund and disband the current TSA and replace it, just to demonstrate that the U.S. Congress does indeed have both teeth and a spine.

Of course, the toothless, spineless repution is one they've earned through decades of toothless, spineless behavior. Maybe our congress truly is as derilict as it's reputation implies.

Zachery Abramson
Zachery Abramson

I feel like that quote is representative of Congress's mindset when addressing issues


Are you just now realizing the TSA and this whole situation isnt good? When a government is patting down more children and old ladies than profiled suspicious people, that should have thrown a red flag. Unfortunately, you are about 11 years too late to pick up on that hint. How about, more TSA employees being hired without background checks, sexual predator or inmate checks, even illegal alien checks (how does someone from another country even manage to get past the interview, let alone patting people down and strip searching them in private rooms), I will NEVER know.

How about when they made it illegal for your family member to stand there with a cell phone and record the perveted freak who is about to rub your genitals? Nope, cant have any evidence that the TSA is acting out! Dont you people get it? The TSA was implemented not for security, but security theatre, put in place to look like the government is concerned, while they systematically pattern Americans into thinking being illegally searched, felt up and violated is the "norm" if you want "safetfy". They have done NOTHING in over a decade, to help airline security, and EVERYTHING to help push a fascist, oppressive, fear driven state.

Think about it.. pat downs and strip searches for anything public are now the norms. How many of you are in the streets demanding your privacy, because, regardless that you have nothing to hide, it is illegal to search you without a warrant or probable cause? None. Thats right. None. Not a single one standing up for the STOLEN rights, that we are guarenteed. Welcome to the new norm. I wonder how many of you, or your family have stopped using public transportation completely? I know I have, and knowabout.. 40 people that have personally, which is roughly 80-90% of the people I know closely. You think airlines are going to eat the drop of revenue from us never flying again? I doubt it. Airlines, busses, subways, they will all raise in cost, due to fewer people willing to be subjected to a fascist fear state, leaving those of you who do not stop using them with higher prices and more disrespect and invasion of your personal space.


Probably quite a few, considering the TSA hires more felons, and sex offenders than all other industries combined.