Rubio Calls for Suspension of Cuba Flights After TSA Admits No Agreement on Air Marshals
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida excoriated the TSA and the Obama administration on the Senate floor Wednesday, just hours after a government official admitted that there are no air marshals on non-charter flights between the U.S. and Cuba.
The revelation came about earlier in the day during a House Homeland Security subcommittee meeting attended by TSA officials.
Questioned by Rep. John Katko, a Republican serving upstate New York, Huban Gowadia, deputy administrator at the TSA, confirmed that there currently aren’t any air marshals aboard non-charter flights because Cuba hasn’t signed a draft of the proposed agreement sent in August of this year.
This contradicts a statement made last month by the TSA that the marshals would be allowed on board “certain flights to and from Cuba.”
Katko accused the TSA of misinforming the public as the Obama administration opened the door for the first commercial flights between the two countries since 1961.
“You mislead the American public when you released your press release saying that it was going to be on select commercial flights,” Katko said. “And it did it at a time right before the flights were about to start, OK?”
Rubio took to the Senate floor to blast the administration’s handling of security issues surrounding the newly allowed flights.
“Back in May, the Assistant Secretary for Policy, at the Department of Homeland Security told the House Homeland Security Committee that new scheduled air service from the United States to Cuba and vice versa was not going to start until air marshals were allowed to be on board those flights,” the GOP senator said.
Going on to mention the TSA statement made in August, Rubio said, “Basically what we have here is an outright lie.”
“I think we need to unite across the aisle and basically say no matter how you feel about Cuba policy, we all agree that travel to Cuba should be safe, no less safe than travel to the Bahamas, no less safe than travel to the Dominican Republic, no less safe than travel to Mexico,” the senator fumed.
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