(Updated below) Erroll Southers, President Obama’s nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration, has withdrawn his nomination, according to the White House.
Southers was nominated in September, but his nomination has been stalled in the Senate for months. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., placed a hold on Southers’ nomination; DeMint was worried that Southers would allow TSA employees to join labor unions.
We’ll have more on this, on the blog and the homepage, throughout the day.
Update, 11:10 a.m.: Responses are starting to trickle in from union leaders. Here’s Colleen Kelley, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union:
I am disappointed with the withdrawal of Erroll Southers to be administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). It was clear from the beginning that Southers was extremely well-qualified for this critical homeland security post. Two Senate committees agreed and he had more than enough bipartisan support to overcome politically-motivated delays to his confirmation.
TSA has a number of issues that continue to contribute to its high attrition rate and low workforce morale. Many of these issues, such as insufficient training, low pay, inconsistencies in workplace policies and injury rates, will only be successfully addressed with a permanent administrator. Unless and until such leadership is in position, TSA will continue to fall far short of its clear goal of becoming a world-class law enforcement agency.
Kelley said she spoke with Southers this morning, and that she was “disappointed… politics drove him out.”