Blackburn: ‘Deeply Disturbing’ Napolitano Would Talk of Furloughing TSA Officers While Spending $50M on New Uniforms

By Elizabeth Harrington | March 6, 2013 | 2:48pm EST

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) (AP Photo)

( – Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said it is “deeply disturbing” that the Transportation Security Administration would seal a $50-million deal for new uniforms just days before the sequester took effect.

“I find it deeply disturbing that as Secretary [Janet] Napolitano is running around scaring people by saying she is going to have to furlough employees because of sequester, that she would also spend $50 million of taxpayer money on new uniforms,” Blackburn said in a statement Wednesday.

“This is a classic failure in leadership,” she said.

“DHS has the flexibility it needs in the sequester to cut waste, fraud, and abuse from its budget,” Blackburn said. “Instead, Secretary Napolitano is making the active decision to furlough personnel and is trying to manufacture a scenario where passengers have to wait in longer lines.”

As reported, the TSA announced last week that it had awarded a contract to VF Imagewear, Inc. for up to $50 million to produce the agency’s uniforms, which amounts to about $1,000 per employee. The deal was completed days before March 1, when the sequester was implemented.

DHS Secretary Napolitano has said airports already are experiencing delays due to the automatic, across-the-board reductions in spending, saying TSA officers will have to be furloughed.

Later news reports, however, have refuted her comments about long lines at airports.

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