Legislative Activity

Homeland Security IG Testifies Before Congressional Committee

On Tuesday, June 9, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General John Roth testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee regarding oversight of the Transportation Secretary Administration (TSA). Mr. Roth’s testimony comes just as TSA continues to address the results of covert testing that found airport screeners failed to detect prohibited items in 67 out of 70 test cases.

During the hearing, Mr. Roth said that he remains “deeply concerned” about TSA’s ability to keep threats off of airplanes, and also raised concerns over TSA’s ability to adequately vet aviation workers with access to secured airport areas. He called the current vetting program “generally effective,” but cautioned that current interagency policies prevent TSA from accessing all relevant information. For example, a review by the IG’s office identified 73 aviation workers granted access to secure areas who had potential ties to terrorism. Congress is likely to continue its close scrutiny of TSA in the coming months, especially as DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson takes steps to address the Inspector General’s investigation.

TSA Nominee Questioned by Senate Homeland Security Committee

On Wednesday, June 10, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing to consider the nomination of Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger to serve as TSA Administrator and Assistant Secretary at DHS.  Vice Admiral Neffenger has already been approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

In his testimony, Vice Admiral Neffenger, who currently serves as Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, outlined the steps he would take to address TSA’s recently uncovered vulnerabilities. He called for measures of effectiveness and a culture of operational evolution at the agency, one that constantly questions current assumptions, plans, and processes. Vice Admiral Neffenger noted that delivering an effective system and earning the public’s confidence will only come through “competence, disciplined performance, and professionalism.”

The Committee will vote on Vice Admiral Neffenger’s nomination this week, potentially clearing the way for his consideration and ultimate confirmation by the chamber as a whole before the July 4 recess.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Monday, June 15: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will vote on the nomination of Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger to serve as Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Tuesday, June 16: the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security will mark up its draft FY 2016 appropriations bill.
  • Tuesday, June 16: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security will host a hearing titled “How TSA [Transportation Security Administration] Can Improve Aviation Worker Vetting.”