Chairman Rockefeller Remarks on Today's Nomination Hearing

March 23, 2010

JDR Head ShotWASHINGTON, D.C.—We are here today to consider the nomination of Major General Robert Harding to be the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). 

First, I want to welcome and congratulate you, Major General Harding. Thank you for your continued service to our nation and your commitment to our national security. 

We simply cannot ignore the fact that our Transportation Security Administration has no administrator in charge, no leader at the helm. 

The attempted Christmas Day attack illustrated the absolute need for TSA to have the strong leader it needs to keep us safe. 

Our enemies are persistent and dangerous, and we know they continue to plan new attacks. We need a highly qualified, strong administrator to lead the TSA and its workforce in protecting our country against future attacks. 

I have no doubt that Major General Robert Harding is ready and qualified to lead this agency effectively. Before retiring, he served 33 years and developed extensive intelligence experience in the United States Army.

During his time with the Army, Major General Harding served as the Director for Operations at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Director for Intelligence for the Army’s U.S. Southern Command, and in several other important positions.

With such a broad background in intelligence and security, and such strong management and leadership experience, I believe Major General Harding has the skills to make a positive impact at the agency.

Major General Harding, the Commerce Committee has a significant role in Homeland Security oversight. Should you be confirmed, I intend to work with you to make sure TSA succeeds.

I am particularly interested in having TSA complete its ongoing cargo and surface transportation initiatives, improving the security of general aviation, and helping to develop and implement new technologies that will advance commercial aviation security. 

I also expect you to work with Congress to make sure TSA has the funds it needs to secure our transportation system. 

I have said this before and I’ll say it again: this is one of the toughest positions in Washington—because the safety and security of our citizens is our most solemn responsibility.

The attempted Christmas Day attack made it absolutely clear that we continue to struggle to share intelligence effectively across agencies. If we are serious about addressing the gaps in both our homeland security and intelligence communities, there is substantial work still to be done. 

To move forward, we need effective leaders at key agencies like the TSA. We need someone who can hit the ground running and provide clear direction.

Major General Harding’s distinguished career in both government and the private sector—where he gained the strong management and leadership skills that the position demands—makes him a good fit for this mission.

As you know, the nature of the job is that you listen to many complaints but receive relatively little praise. But together, I believe, we can work to make TSA successful.

I look forward to your testimony, Major General Harding.