Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

E-Newsletter Signup

Facebook icon
Twitter icon
YouTube icon
RSS icon

Norton Urges TSA to Take Corrective Action After D.C. License Rejected to Board Plane

Feb 27, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today wrote a letter to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) following an incident in which D.C. resident Ashley Brandt was initially prevented from boarding a flight because a TSA agent wrongfully believed that a District of Columbia-issued license was an invalid form of identification.  The letter requests that TSA Administrator John Pistole ensure that all TSA employees are informed now and in their training that official identification issued by D.C. must be treated the same as state-issued identification, and to remind them that D.C. residents are American citizens and deserve to be treated as such.  The letter urges the same for residents of the five U.S. territories.

Norton, in her letter, wrote, “I have since called Ms. Brandt to apologize that a U.S. government employee would question the right of a resident of the nation’s capital to board an airplane… This incident involving Ms. Brandt was so bizarre and ludicrous that it has captured press attention and reflects poorly on the management of TSA.”

Norton’s statement on the incident, released yesterday, is online, here: http://norton.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/norton-statement-on-tsa-agent-questioning-validity-of-dc-resident-s

The full text of Norton’s letter follows:

February 27, 2014

Dear Administrator Pistole:

            We were shocked and bewildered to learn that a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) at the Phoenix, Arizona airport initially prevented a District of Columbia resident, Ashley Brandt, from boarding an airplane on February 18, 2014, because the TSO did not know whether a D.C.-issued license was a valid form of identification for boarding an airplane.  I have since called Ms. Brandt to apologize that a U.S. government employee would question the right of a resident of the nation’s capital to board an airplane.  Ms. Brandt reacted with grace, but I told her that I would bring the matter to your personal attention. 

           Ashley Brandt, a pre-school teacher in the District of Columbia, is one of almost 650,000 American citizens who live in the District of Columbia and have all the obligations of American citizenship, including paying federal taxes and serving in the nation’s wars.  While D.C. residents are undemocratically denied voting representation in the House and Senate and full control over their local laws and budget, our residents are American citizens who have all the other rights of citizens, including using D.C.-issued identification to travel by airplane.  The undemocratic treatment of D.C. residents by Congress should never extend to similar treatment by federal employees.

          I am sure that the TSO involved was not typical of the hardworking employees of the TSA.  However, I have since learned that American citizens of the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have encountered similar indignities.  The incident involving Ms. Brandt was so bizarre and ludicrous that it has captured press attention and reflects poorly on the management of TSA.  I request that you take steps to ensure that all TSA employees are informed now and in their training that identification documents issued by the District of Columbia and the territories must be treated the same as state-issued identification, and to remind them that D.C. residents and the residents of the territories are American citizens and deserve to be treated as such.

Sincerely,
        

Eleanor Holmes Norton

 

CC: The Honorable Eni F. H. Faleomavaega, Member of Congress

The Honorable Madeleine Bordallo, Member of Congress

The Honorable Pedro Pierluisi, Member of Congress

The Honorable Donna M. Christensen, Member of Congress

The Honorable Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Member of Congress

Published: February 27, 2014