Senator Ted Cruz is proposing that lawmakers, federal judges, and cabinet members be provided with airport security. The proposal would also include a limited number of family members and staff.
Cruz hopes to attach the proposal as an amendment, attached to a major aviation policy bill. That bill, S. 1939, is expected to be marked up in the Senate Commerce Committee this week. A perk in the proposal is expedited screening that would be outside public view.
The senator told Politico that the proposal is needed. He wants to make sure that “political VIPs” aren’t endangered when they walk through public spaces like airports. The extra security measures would be for those who currently or previously have been threatened.
Cruz said there are “serious security threats facing public officials. “It’s important that we take reasonable measures to keep everyone safe.”
So, who would provide the security? Airport police? TSA?
But the head of a nonprofit representing airport police said Cruz’s proposal would be “a burden to airport police agencies,” especially because federal budgets already do not adequately fund airport police units. It would also divert police from “crime suppression and security functions at airports, which is our fundamental duty,” said Kevin Murphy, executive director of the Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network.
Instead, Murphy said, any escort duties for political VIPs should be the job of federal law enforcement.
The Transportation Security Administration, which would bear much of the onus for arranging the escorts, declined to comment on the legislation.
It is sometimes alarming to see how little security protection most lawmakers have, especially in today’s political atmosphere. Remember, Congress had to increase security measures for the Supreme Court justices in 2022 due to increased threats, but that additional security did not extend to their family members.
This proposal from Cruz, of all people, brings memories of a news story about his trip to Cancun with his family during The Big Freeze That Almost Killed Us All in Texas in February 2021. His house in Houston, like everyone else, had no power. His family and their friends went as a group to Cancun, Mexico. The press photographed him at the airport and it was national news as soon as they realized he was flying south to avoid the Big Freeze. Frankly, as someone in Houston, I didn’t blame him. But, I’m not an elected official who is expected to solve the problems of everyone. I remember thinking, what could he do? But he could offer his time to agencies delivering help to people or something along those lines. He did that when he quickly returned to Houston amid all the backlash he received. And he admitted that his actions were “obviously a mistake.”
This bill is bipartisan.
The bill would allow the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to provide security escort to travel with the VIPs, or their family members “through a commercial airport without delay” at no cost. The escort would be expected to stay with the member “for the entirety of the time” and would allow the lawmakers to receive expedited screening in private.
“This language was drafted in a bipartisan manner to address the growing number of serious threats to justices, judges, public officials, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle,” said Senate Republican Commerce Committee spokeswoman, Melissa Braid. “With rising security incidents at airports, this amendment ensures that—when law enforcement determines that there is a serious threat—reasonable security measures will be taken to keep everybody safe.”
Naturally, since it is Ted Cruz, the criticism is centered around personal attacks and his trip to Cancun.
Called the Secret Flight to Cancun Bill… https://t.co/yVvQx5I33z
— Alexander Nevermind (@photoeddie) February 4, 2024
Keep the riff raff commoners away from Prince Ted. https://t.co/4RceUjkQCr
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) February 3, 2024
You get the picture.
I’m sure this will get wider criticism if it passes. Voters aren’t really in the mood to provide more perks for elected officials who are compensated for their jobs at a higher level than ordinary Americans. This is about personal safety, though, and in times like this, there may be more inclination to understand the fears of those, and their families, who receive personal threats.