Rep. Swalwell Leads Letter of 133 Members of Congress to Stop TSA Knife Policy

March 21, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), and Michael Grimm (R-NY) led a bipartisan group of 133 members of Congress in sending a letter to John S. Pistole, Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), expressing serious concern and urging the withdrawal of the recent decision that TSA will start to allow passengers to bring certain knives and sports equipment onboard airplanes.

This decision was 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 making significant changes that impact the frontline workforce and the flying public.

Congressman Swalwell, member of the Committee on Homeland Security and its Transportation Security Subcommittee, released the following statement:

“Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and key stakeholders agree that TSA’s decision to allow knives on-board planes seems misguided, and frankly, dangerous.  I am proud to have helped lead this letter to urge TSA to reverse this policy until it at the very least meaningfully engages with pilots, flight attendants and transportation security officers. Passenger and flight crew safety in our skies is too important to allow policy to be made without input from all interested parties.”

Congressman Thompson, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, added the following statement on the letter:

“I join my colleagues today to call upon TSA to revisit this potentially dangerous and confusing policy.  In the weeks since this change has been announced, the American public still has no solid explanation of the reasoning which led to the decision permitting potentially harmful items on airplanes – creating a potential security gap.  Policies that impact millions of passengers and thousands of front-line workers must not be created in a vacuum.  When creating major policy decisions with wide impact, TSA must follow a more effective and logical review process, consult proper stakeholders, and utilize the ASAC.”

Congressman Grimm also released the following statement:

“This level of congressional opposition should serve as a wake-up call to TSA. The decision to lift the ban on knives was done without any rhyme or reason, and without consulting any key stakeholders - like members of Congress, flight attendants and air marshals, and the general public. I don’t know which is more idiotic – the policy or the process – but the bottom-line is that the ban must be reinstated. We live in a post-9/11 world, and no safety threat should be taken lightly. I am proud to stand with over 100 of my House colleagues who put passenger and crew safety above all else, and thank them for joining the effort to reinstate the ban.”