TSA nomination held up

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- In the aftermath of an attempt to blow up an airliner Democrats charge a top U.S. security post is vacant because of a Republican senator's opposition.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has blocked President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration due to concern over the prospect that TSA employees might unionize, McClatchy Newspapers reported Monday. The nominee, Erroll Southers, is a former FBI special agent and assistant chief for homeland security and intelligence at Los Angeles World Airports Police Department.

His nomination has been approved by two U.S. Senate committees and the TSA is being led by an acting administrator pending a vote in the full Senate.

Marshall McClain, the president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, said the Senate should have already confirmed the appointment by now.

"Friday's terrorist attack on U.S. aviation makes it all the more imperative that there be no further delays in filling this crucial position," he said.

DeMint said he was holding up the nomination until he could get clarification on Southers' position on unionization of TSA workers, McClatchy reported. In a statement, DeMint called the Christmas Day attack "a perfect example of why the Obama administration should not unionize the TSA."

He said collective bargaining would interfere with the agency's "flexibility to make real-time decisions that allowed it to quickly improve security measures in response to this attempted attack."

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called DeMint's holdup of Southers' nomination "disgraceful," the report said.

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