Chairman Rockefeller Remarks on TSA's Effort to Secure Our Nation's Transportation System

November 9, 2011

Chairman RockefellerWASHINGTON, D.C.—Ten years ago this month, the Senate Commerce Committee created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  I have seen firsthand how extremely difficult it is to lead the agency.  There is no margin for error, and no shortage of criticism.  

We are now approaching a decade without a successful attack against the Nation’s transportation network.  I find that remarkable.  I also know it has not come without an incredible amount of hard work on the part of the TSA.

Despite its achievements in keeping our country’s transportation networks secure, the TSA has always attracted a tremendous amount of attention and generated its fair share of controversy.  The volume of traffic alone makes that so.  But this does not make the job of TSA Administrator any easier.  Adding to the daily burden you face are proposed budget cuts and conflicting messages from Congress on which direction to take the agency.  But, this is exactly why I believe you have been the ideal person for this job from the start of your tenure.

Your deep background in law enforcement has given you valuable perspective in considering new concepts and understanding the value of your workforce.  You have worked aggressively to strengthen relationships with our foreign partners and to make certain intelligence is used as effectively as possible.  The “risk-based” approach to security you advocate is a realistic path forward in our current environment.  You have been uncompromising in promoting activities that are necessary for the security of our transportation system, but flexible when common sense dictates the need for reasonable alternatives.  Your steady leadership is vital, and Congress should do everything to give you the support you deserve.  

There is a lot of misinformation and differing viewpoints about the adequacy of transportation security, its needs, and its direction.  What I really want is the unvarnished truth from you regarding the direction of the agency, how it can be more effective, and any potential stumbling blocks that jeopardize our transportation security regime.  I also want us to assist you in making sure you have the resources you require.  You have encouraged Congress to provide additional funding through airline passenger security fees, and I support you in this effort.

I strongly believe we must have certainty that any funds raised for aviation security go directly to aviation security, because I believe most U.S. travelers want to be safe and secure above all else.  There should be a reasonable way to move forward and make sure needed security initiatives are properly funded throughout the system.

Thank you for being here today.  We can handle the truth, so please give us the clarity we need to keep you and the TSA successful in its mission.