President Obama's nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration is a Coast Guard leader already popular with Congress, but he could find Senate confirmation to be a tricky feat, Politico reports. Because lawmakers are some of the most frequent fliers, Coast Guard Vice Commandant Peter Neffenger will have to endure questioning from members who have ample grounds for criticizing an agency that has drawn fire for flaps involving pocket knives, body-scanning machines and a groping scandal in Denver. Former TSA Administrator John Pistole had been Obama's third pick for the post after two other nominees who ran into flak on the Hill.
“After months of bipartisan concern about the vacancy at TSA, the nomination of Admiral Neffenger to lead efforts securing our nation's key transportation systems will receive prompt consideration,” said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD). Neffenger would be wise to keep Congress in the loop on policy changes, as shown by the bipartisan backlash TSA faced after announcing in 2013 that it would allow air travelers to carry small pocket knives and sports equipment like hockey sticks. (It reversed that decision.) Legislators have come down hard on TSA amid reports of checkpoint screeners plotting to grope male passengers at Denver International Airport, concerns about agency efforts to use “behavior detection” to pick out travelers for more intensive screening, and Delta Air Lines employees accused of smuggling guns on flights from Atlanta to New York.