Just as it looked likely to pass, the Texas Legislature failed this week to take a vote on a bill that would criminalize Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents if they touch the genitals of passengers during security pat-downs.


The bill's original configuration was enough to draw a warning from one U.S. attorney, who wrote to Texas officials cautioning that federal authorities would appeal the decision and shut down any flight that could not be secured by the TSA.

Republicans in the Texas House had passed the bill twice before, but the first time it failed to clear the Senate after officials watered down the criminal penalties it would have imposed.

A second effort by the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Alan Simpson (R), faltered again in the Senate, but Gov. Rick Perry (R), who is considering a 2012 presidential run, decided to put the bill before the legislature again during the special session.

But after state representatives passed the bill, it was tweaked once again to change its constitutional requirement of "probable cause" for an intrusive pat-down to "reasonable suspicion," meaning it would require another vote.

The Republican-dominated legislature failed to cast those ballots and adjourned, leaving the bill stranded in limbo.

Simpson, in a lengthy speech to the Texas House, promised that the bill's failure is "not the last effort to stop unreasonable searches of our persons."

"But, the people of Texas should not be confused," he added. "The explanation is simple and clear. The defeat of this bill can only be laid at the feet of the leadership of this state."

This video is from The Texas Tribune, published to YouTube on Thursday, June 29, 2011.