H.R. 2200 authorized funding for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). There had been many complaints from Members of Congress about the substance of some of the emergency regulations the TSA had issued, and about the methods used in developing those regulations. This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Mica (R-FL) that permitted the TSA to issue an emergency regulation or security directive without adhering to the usual rulemaking procedures when it determined that it was responding to “an imminent threat of finite duration". It also required the TSA to comply with the usual rulemaking procedures after a security directive or emergency order it issued had been in place for more than 180 days.
Rep. Mica said in his statement in support of the amendment that its passage would ensure that the waiver of the usual rulemaking procedures “occurs only when there is an ‘imminent threat of finite duration’ . . .This amendment would refine TSA's security directive issuance process to make it truly responsive to imminent threats and not just the whim of the agency.” Rep. Petri (R-WI), who also sponsored the amendment, said it “seeks to clarify the standard for when TSA is allowed to circumvent the rulemaking process . . . While there are circumstances in which these security directives are necessary to address immediate threats to our transportation systems, they too often have been issued under unclear circumstances . . . .”
Rep. DeFazio (D-OR) opposed the amendment. He said he shared “the tremendous frustration with a bureaucracy that gets over the edge for no real purpose” and acknowledged “that the current process is not perfect . . . (and) that the TSA had done some stupid things.” However, he then said “I don't think the way to solve inadequacies and problems with the current directive process is to create an even more lengthy, expensive bureaucratic process.”
DeFazio noted that H.R. 2200 already had language “to make (the bureaucracy) responsive and responsible and make their work make more sense and meet our true security needs. But if you impose this (proposed change) on the entire structure, you're going to divert a lot of resources in the Transportation Security Administration over into a bureaucratic, lengthy rulemaking process. They are not going to have the flexibility to change . . . . . . It is not a practical way to address this.”
The amendment passed on a vote of 219-211. One hundred and seventy-seven Republicans and forty-two Democrats voted “aye”. All two hundred and eleven “nay” votes were cast by Democrats, including an overwhelming number of the most progressive Members. As a result, language was added to H.R. 2200 that changed the standards for determining when the TSA can issue an emergency regulation or a security directive.