Mike McCaul set to engage on TSA issues

by BURGESS EVERETT, Politico.com  |  published on November 29, 2012

Congress’s next Homeland Security Committee chairman is determined to explore further privatization of the Transportation Security Administration, work on its beleaguered image and avoid internal squabbles among committees trying to get a crack at the agency.

Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said he hopes to sidestep situations like Thursday’s Transportation and Infrastructure hearing on how TSA regulations effect the “aviation passenger experience” — a hearing not a single representative of the agency will attend. TSA said the transportation committee has “no jurisdiction” on the matter, flatly stating it would “continue to work with its committees of jurisdiction.” A T&I spokesman asserted that list should include Chairman John Mica’s panel.

“The TSA’s position that it may disregard the transportation committee’s requests for information, including invitations to testify, seems to rest on the incorrect notion that, because the committee does not have direct legislative jurisdiction over the agency, it therefore has no obligation to provide the committee with information,” said Justin Harclerode, a spokesman for Mica.

McCaul said he’s prepared to work closely with Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who is set to take Mica’s gavel next year as McCaul replaces Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) atop Homeland Security; both current chairmen are term limited.

King told POLITICO in June that “John Mica can say what he wants, … but we have John Mica’s jurisdiction.” McCaul hopes to steer clear of public spats over TSA, a regular in the congressional spotlight; the agency says it has participated in 38 hearings and 425 congressional briefings in the past two years.

McCaul suggested T&I will indeed have “pieces” of TSA oversight in the next Congress and plans to assign a full-time staffer to work out committee jurisdiction.

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