Pistole will oversee a 50,000-person agency that is responsible for security at 457 U.S. airports and other mass-transit systems. The post has been vacant for months after two nominees were forced to withdraw amid concerns from senators.
Pistole, a 27-year veteran with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who is currently the bureau’s deputy director, had little opposition and wide bipartisan support. Senators cited his FBI experience working on counterterrorism issues as ideal for the TSA post.
Republicans did press Pistole on whether he thought TSA screeners should be given collective bargaining rights. The Obama administration supports allowing those workers to organize, while most Republicans have opposed it.
Pistole did not take a position on the issue but his open mindedness appeared to satisfy skeptics. “He told me he did not predetermine his position on collective bargaining, that the FBI did not have collective bargaining, and that was the environment he was used to, and that security absolutely had to come first,” said Susan Collins of Maine, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.