The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) is upset the new carry-on restrictions put in place following the recent foiled terrorist plot in Europe do not cover certain sharp items, and continues to push for legislation that would prohibit such items in an aircraft's cabin.
A spokesperson for AFA-CWA said the union fully supports the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA's) newly imposed ban of items like shampoo, hair gel, and more in light of terrorists' plans to use such items as bombs in commercial flights. But the union is continuing its push for restricting items such as screwdrivers, four-inch scissors and more from flights. TSA removed those items from its list of prohibited carry-on items last year, and AFA-CWA remains concerned the items could be used as weapons.
The flight attendants have received support in Congress for their efforts to ban the items. The Senate's fiscal year 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill included an amendment by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) that would require a Government Accountability Office investigation on TSA effectiveness in screening operations following TSA's decision to allow the potentially dangerous items on flights.
The budget now waits for reconciliation with the House bill.
In the House, the Homeland Security Committee passed the Homeland Security authorization bill July 19 and included a provision by senior committee member Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) that would mandate the removal of the items from the approved carry-on list.
And on Aug. 31, Rep. Markey sent Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff a letter asking him to have all packages brought to airline counters for shipping to be inspected for explosives.
Speaking at a Dec. 12, 2005 hearing, assistant secretary for TSA Edmond Hawley argued that the threat posed by such objects was comparatively small to the threat posed by explosives and other weapons. By allowing the sharp objects TSA is able to focus on searching what they believe are the more substantial threats, he said.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) introduced legislation at a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee meeting Dec. 12, 2005 that would forbid TSA from allowing sharp objects on planes.
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