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Congress Alert

Bipartisan Agreement: Anti-TSA Amendment Disqualifies Rep. Broun from Winning Senate Race


United States Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia, who is running for US Senate, struck a nerve when he offered an amendment to eliminate funding for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) during consideration of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act in the House of Representatives last week. At Roll Call, this amendment is characterized as the latest example of Broun's "penchant for pushing amendments that are viewed as extreme, even by many in his own party." The article includes quotes from Republican and Democrat pundits piling on Rep. Broun, saying that his offering of the amendment is one of the reasons Broun can win neither the Republican primary nor the general election.

If Broun is strong enough in the Senate race and does not acquiesce to staying within the prescribed limits of political debate, do not be surprised if significant money flows into attacking him for his TSA amendment. Such spending, if seen as successful in defeating Broun, can teach other politicians that it is not safe to independently oppose core aspects of the US government's march forward in spending and power, especially in the areas of security and police.

The attack would be that Broun does not want to stop the terrorists from blowing up grandma and little Jimmy's flight to Disney World. Glossed over will be the fact the US government is spending billions yearly on the TSA scanning, frisking, questioning, detaining, and harassing grandma, Jimmy, and many other people every day. Also glossed over will be the fact that the TSA is conditioning people to accept police state tactics as a routine part of their lives and that the security threats used to justify the TSA's actions exist largely because of the US government's foreign policy and sting operations.

Broun's TSA amendment may be extreme for the House of Representatives, where it was rejected by voice vote. But, if presented accurately, it is hard to believe the amendment would harm his chances in the Senate race. Here is what Broun said on the House floor in support of his amendment:
Mr. Chairman, my amendment would completely eliminate funding for the Transportation Security Administration, TSA, and transfer that money to the spending reduction account, saving taxpayers nearly $5 billion.

Congress intended for TSA to be an efficient, cutting-edge, intelligence-based agency responsible for protecting our airports and keeping our passengers safe and secure, but today it has grown into one of the largest bureaucracies in the Federal Government. They've had a 400 percent increase in staff since they were created. A good portion of those are headquarters employees making six-figure incomes, on the average.

What's worse is that the American passengers aren't getting a good return on the more than $60 billion investment that they've spent on TSA. Reports indicate that more than 25,000--repeat, 25,000--security breaches have occurred in U.S. airports since 2001.

Plus, we have evidence today that terrorists on the no-fly list still have been able to board U.S. aircraft--terrorists boarding U.S. aircraft, in spite of TSA.

Furthermore, we've seen report after report on TSA employees displaying a lack of professionalism, being inadequately trained, and even engaging in theft and other illegal activities.

Just about the only thing that the TSA is consistently good at is using its extensive power to violate American travelers' civil liberties. Veterans, the disabled, the elderly, and even small children have been the victims of overly invasive searches by TSA officers. This is all evidence that the TSA has veered dangerously off course.

I've repeatedly asked that we use our resources to focus on intelligence and technologies that could be more effective when it comes to catching terrorists. I've called for the privatization of TSA, and so have many other of my colleagues. But we still have yet to see the necessary changes made to the TSA personnel or to its procedures that will ensure the safety and security of our airports and passengers.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment to zero out funding for the TSA forces Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to start from scratch on a leaner, more effective, and more focused and more productive system for protecting our U.S. citizens. I urge my colleagues to support my amendment.

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