The Transportation Security Administration, created in the wake of 9/11, may well be disbanded. That is, if the very same Republican legislators behind the behemoth's creation get their way. Reports the Chicago Sun-Times:
The Transportation Security Administration, which hired some 65,000 employees and has spent more than $10 billion over 3-1/2 years, has been beset by complaints about its performance, leaving it vulnerable to congressional Republicans who want to reduce the size of government.
After the terrorist attacks, "people were panicked to put in place a massive bureaucracy," said House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman John Mica.
The Florida Republican says the time has come to rethink TSA and cut it back….
Mica and other Republicans, who were never entirely comfortable with creating a new bureaucracy, want to return all airport security screener jobs to the private sector, where they were before Sept. 11, 2001. If so, the federal screeners would get the first opportunity to apply for the private jobs.
Mica argues that private companies will do a better, more efficient job at the screening that currently is the TSA's primary function.
The law creating the Homeland Security Department has a sunset provision for the transportation security office. It says the TSA has only to be maintained as a distinct entity until November 2004….
But many Democrats believe the federal agency is needed to protect travelers. They say Republicans set it up to fail by refusing to give it enough money.
"I helped to create TSA, which is now being disassembled," said Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio.
The law creating TSA gave airports the choice of returning to privately employed screeners to check passengers and bags as of Nov. 19. An estimated 100 airports, out of 445 with TSA screeners, already have expressed interest in taking advantage of that option this fall.
"We will not go back to the days of private screeners," vowed Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).
Mica sees TSA's future as a limited agency that retains influence over the air security system….
"The TSA should set policy, do oversight, conduct audits, possibly do background checks," he said.
Reason's February cover story detailed the "sorry record" of the TSA. Read it here.
Given a few more stories like this one today about massive lines at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, it'll likely be tough sledding for the TSA to hang onto its massive workforce.