The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) refused an invitation to appear at a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing Thursday, declaring the committee had no jurisdiction over the agency.
TSA administrator John Pistole was invited to testify at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Aviation titled "How best to improve our nation’s airport passenger security system through common sense solutions."
However, in a press release issued Tuesday, the TSA said the rules of the House of Representatives "state that the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has no jurisdiction over the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)," therefore "no representative from TSA will be present at the subcommittee on aviation hearing."
Subcommittee on Aviation chairman Rep. Tom Petri (R., Wis.) said the agency’s "absence today demonstrates why the public is so frustrated with the TSA."
The Republican-led committee has often attacked the agency.
"TSA has mushroomed into a massive, inflexible, backward-looking bureaucracy" whose "numerous failures have cost taxpayers $57 billion," Petri wrote on the subcommittee’s website.
The committee said in a statement that TSA "is missing the point" when it claims the committee has no jurisdiction over it.
"While this committee does not have direct legislative jurisdiction over TSA, that agency, as with any other agency, has a responsibility to provide Congressionally requested testimony or information when TSA programs and performance impact matters within the committee’s jurisdiction," the committee said in a statement. "Unfortunately, TSA regularly chooses to not even respond to simple requests for information by this committee."
Thursday’s hearing focused on recommendations from government and private organizations on how to improve TSA’s screening process.
"The TSA and its 45,000 screeners are responsible for a complex and difficult job: Ensuring the security of all aviation passengers," Rep. Petri said. "The TSA would be well served in pursuing better partnerships with aviation stakeholders."