(RTTNews) - By a unanimous vote Friday, the Senate confirmed President Barack Obama's nominee John Pistole to head the Transportation Security Administration.
Pistole was actually the third nominee for the position. The previous two nominees - former FBI agent Erroll Southers and retired General Robert Harding - withdrew their names after controversies surrounding their old jobs came to light.
His hearings were dominated by the issue of whether or not airport screeners should be allowed to unionize. During Pistole's June 10 hearing, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, flatly stated that she is "adamantly against" allowing them to join unions.
"You can't have eight-hour days," Hutchinson argued. "You have to be able to respond to emergencies."
Ultimately, Pistole would not give an answer as to whether or not he supported screeners unionizing, but instead he stated that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asked him to look into the matter.
Pistole noted that it is difficult to discover every would-be terrorist. He pointed out that Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the "Christmas Bomber" who tried to detonate an explosive on a flight bound for Detroit on Christmas, wouldn't have had explosive traces of his bomb discovered by screening since he never touched it.
So, he argued, while it is important to have the best technology for screening, it is even more important to have vital intelligence to be up-to-date on what terrorists are planning.
Meanwhile, the American Federation of Government Employees, a union representing Transportation Security Administration workers, said that it welcomes Pistole into the position of TSA Administrator and "pledged to work with the new TSA leader to improve morale, and thus, enhance security."
"This agency, and its tens of thousands of hard-working, dedicated and loyal employees, has been in need of a strong leader in order to fulfill its mission of protecting the security of this nation," said AFGE National President John Gage.
He added, "AFGE believes that Mr. Pistole has the right combination of knowledge, experience and commitment to restore TSA to an agency the American public can trust, and one in which its employees can be proud of."