A Republican senator who is blocking the confirmation of President Barack Obama's choice to head the Transportation Security Administration said Monday that he will continue to block the nominee, saying that he's concerned Obama pick Erroll Southers would allow TSA employees to have collective bargaining aggreements.
In essence, a key conservative senator believes that union bargaining agreements are more important than having a person running the Transportation Security Administration, despite a near-bomb attack on a commercial plane last week.
"The president took eight months to even nominate someone for that position and what I've asked for, Matt, is just some debate and a recorded vote," DeMint said on NBC's "Today" show.
"I've asked [Southers] if he's going to change the policy of collective bargaining within the TSA and he will not give me a straight answer," said DeMint. Following the failed bombing of a Christmas day Northwest Airlines flight bound for Detroit, DeMint told Fox News that unionization was a threat to airport security.
"This is all about politics, and not security," DeMint said Monday. "What I want is a few hours of debate on Mr. Southers, to help focus the nation back on security and get this politics, particularly union politics out of our security apparatus."
DeMint took flak over the weekend from a Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill, who declared that DeMint's opposition to his confirmation was "nuts."
"All it's doing is hurting the traveling public, because the most important front-line agency to protect Americans, right now, on flights, is being held up over political stuff."
McCaskill's comments follow.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/0FxJ4-S4_6I&hl=en_US&fs=1& expand=1]
This video is from NBC's Today Show, broadcast Jan. 4, 2010.