Committee on Homeland Security: Bipartisan Group to Inquire on TSA Prohibited Items Policy Change

United States House of Representatives
Committee on Homeland Security
Press Center

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, along with Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Michael Grimm (R-NY), announced that they will be sending a formal bipartisan letter to John S. Pistole, Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), raising serious objections regarding his recent decision and announcement that TSA will start to allow passengers to bring knives and certain sports equipment onboard airplanes.

This decision appears to have been made without formal engagement with stakeholders impacted by this policy, including those most likely to come into contact with someone possessing a knife on a plane – flight crewmembers and air marshals. The Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC), which has played a role in the development of security policy in the past, was also not consulted. The letter will ask the Administrator to refrain from implementing this policy and urge him to utilize existing mechanisms to engage with all relevant stakeholders before enacting significant policy changes that impact the frontline workforce and the flying public.

Congressman Thompson released the following statement with the announcement:  “I am concerned by TSA’s decision to modify its prohibited items list and allow knives and other carry-ons that can be used as weapons through airport security. Developing policies in a vacuum that will impact millions of passengers and thousands of front-line workers is a disservice to the American public. This is why I continue to champion stakeholder participation, through the Aviation Security Advisory Committee, so that the voices of all those directly affected can be heard.”

Congressman Swalwell, member of the Committee on Homeland Security and its Transportation Security Subcommittee, added the following statement: “Americans continue to be mystified by TSA and this latest decision is another example of a questionable TSA policy. Before allowing dangerous potential weapons on planes, TSA should have at least meaningfully consulted with flight attendants, pilots and other stakeholders to ensure public safety. I look forward to questioning Administrator Pistole about this policy at a Transportation Security Subcommittee hearing on Thursday.”

Congressman Grimm also released the following statement: “As a former federal law enforcement agent, I believe passenger and flight crew safety must remain a top priority, and allowing knives in the aircraft cabin puts that safety at risk. We must face the realities of a post-9/11 world and make our decisions accordingly. Lifting the ban on knives is an irresponsible and short-sighted decision that could seriously harm innocent passengers or the dedicated crew. That is why I am urging the TSA to reinstate the ban without delay.”

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