Road Warrior

Cut Pat-Downs, Use Private Screening Firms: House GOP

Bart Jansen, USA Today
Passengers are pictured at Check-In desks at London's Heathrow airport.
Carl de Souza | AFP | Getty Images

House Republicans on Tuesday pushed the Transportation Security Administration to reduce pat-downs of passengers, shrink its size and turn airport screening over to private companies.

"Pat-downs have hit a nerve with the general public, and TSA has failed to adequately explain why it continues to use this procedure two years after its initial rollout," Republicans on the House Homeland Security subcommittee for transportation security said in a report.

(Read more: Heating Lunch Instead: TSA Fires Six Boston Screeners)

The GOP report also blasted the agency for waiting a year after starting pat-downs in October 2010 before it halted full-body searches of children without parental consent.

The unpopular pat-downs are an example of an agency that needs to change because of public dissatisfaction with its tactics and how much it spends, the report said.

"It is time to reform TSA," said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., the subcommittee's chairman.

The report — which urges a smaller workforce run by private companies, as occurs at 16 airports currently — was issued at a subcommittee hearing that coincided with the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which spawned the TSA.

John Halinski, the TSA's deputy administrator, told lawmakers he would respond in writing. He said the agency taps an advisory committee, with members from airports and airlines, for recommendations about focusing on the riskiest threats.

The TSA has argued in the past that private contractors cost more than government workers.