Bloomberg News

Senators Seek to Overturn TSA Change on Knives on Planes

March 22, 2013

Two U.S. senators said they will offer a bipartisan amendment aimed at overturning the Transportation Security Administration’s “foolhardy” plan to let passengers bring small knives on commercial flights.

Permitting knives in airplane cabins puts passengers and flight crews at an unacceptable risk, Senators Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, said in a statement today.

“We can’t simply sit on our hands and allow TSA to enact this foolhardy plan to let knives back onto airplanes,” Schumer said in the statement. “Knives are every bit as dangerous today as they were on September 11th.”

The TSA will start permitting U.S. airline passengers to carry pocket knives beginning April 25. Since the decision was announced March 5, Congress has been besieged with complaints from unions representing flight attendants, pilots and airport screeners.

A coalition of flight attendant unions representing 90,000 workers released a letter signed by 133 lawmakers of both parties to TSA Administrator John Pistole, saying the agency set its policy “without any formal engagement with stakeholders.”

‘Integral Layer’

“We strongly believe that the prohibition of dangerous items is an integral layer in the safety of our aviation system,” wrote the lawmakers including Representatives Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, and Michael Grimm, a New York Republican. “TSA’s recent change in policy seems unlikely to produce significant efficiencies at airport security.”

TSA has said it made the change to align the U.S. with international security standards and let screeners focus on the bigger threat of terrorists using explosives made out of liquids to blow up a plane.

The Schumer-Murkowski measure would direct congressional committees to adjust their budget allocations to bar the TSA from implementing the knives policy. The measure has to be approved by the full Senate and reconciled with a separate resolution passed by the House.

The annual budget blueprint under consideration is nonbinding and is agreed to only by Congress to set fiscal policy goals. Any policy change would have to be approved by both chambers in separate legislation and signed by President Barack Obama to go into effect.

The TSA doesn’t comment on proposed legislation, said David Castelveter, an agency spokesman.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Plungis in Washington at jplungis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net


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