WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation announces the following full committee hearing on nominations.
Nominees to include:
Major General Robert A. Harding (U.S.A., ret.), to be Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid or service, including closed captioning service for webcast hearings, should contact Collenne Wider at 202-224-5511 at least three business days in advance of the hearing date.
Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IVU.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
WASHINGTON, 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.
Senator Kay Bailey HutchisonU.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
STATEMENT OF SENATOR KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
MARCH 23, 2010
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding today’s hearing. I share your sense of urgency about the need to confirm a new leader for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and appreciate your scheduling this hearing before the Easter recess. TSA, which is so critical to fulfilling the mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and protecting the traveling public, has been without an Administrator for more than a year.
Major General Harding, we welcome you and thank you for your willingness to serve as TSA Administrator and Assistant Secretary at DHS. I commend you for your life-long commitment to your country. Your 33 years in the U.S. Army, including serving as the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff with responsibility for the Army’s intelligence functions and as the Director for Operations for the Defense Intelligence Agency, are quite impressive.
If confirmed, the job before you will be extremely difficult and the decisions you make will have tremendous impact on the safety and economic viability of our national transportation system across all modes. The challenges and threat assessments that our intelligence and security community face everyday are too numerous to mention, but I do have a number of topics I would like to briefly highlight.
First, is the issue of allowing transportation security officers (TSOs), or screeners, to collectively bargain. Federal law does prohibit screeners from striking; however, former TSA Administrators have argued that allowing screeners to collectively bargain could have dire consequences on TSA’s fundamental security mission, by degrading TSA’s need for a flexible workforce which can react quickly to emerging threats. How you specifically intend to address the collective bargaining issue will be of great interest to this Committee.
Second, you are going to have to work very hard to establish a more cooperative and trusting relationship with industry across all modes and sizes. I repeatedly hear from constituents and stakeholder groups that TSA quickly turns a deaf ear to cooperation and partnerships with industry, and too often uses blunt force in policy areas that need a more highly coordinated and agreed upon approach.
Third, the day-to-day management challenges of running and leading an agency of over 50,000 people are immense. I will be interested to hear your thoughts on how to lead and manage the agency most effectively and efficiently.
Finally, I will have some questions about your work with the defense and intelligence contracting firm you established after retiring from the military. I have no reason to question your integrity, or the truthfulness of the information you have submitted to the Committee, but the Committee has an obligation to ensure that a nominee’s past positions, and performance in those positions, will not create conflicts of interest or otherwise compromise the Federal government and the security of the Nation.
Congress and the traveling public put an enormous amount of trust in the TSA every day. The inherent need and economic implications of maintaining a safe and secure transportation system are an integral part of our national security.
Mr. Chairman, thank you. I look forward to your testimony, Major General Harding.
Witness Panel 1
Major General Robert A. Harding (U.S.A., ret.)to be Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security