Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey introduced a bill Tuesday to stop the government from allowing airline passengers to carry small knives on planes, as two more airlines this week joined in opposition to the revised federal policy.
Markey said he resorted to legislative action because the Transportation Security Administration refuses to reverse its recent policy change that permits knives and other potential weapons in cabins, despite widespread criticism.
“If TSA won’t reverse its policy to allow knives onto planes, then Congress will take action with this legislation,” the Democratic congressman said. “There is no reason for a passenger to have a knife on a plane, and allowing knives on planes puts our flight attendants, pilots and passengers at greater risk.”
TSA chief John Pistole announced the changes March 5, saying they were made in part to reduce wait times at security checkpoints. He said small baseball bats, ski poles, golf clubs and hockey and lacrosse sticks also can be carried on board, starting April 25.
The changes mark the first time that knives will be allowed in cabins since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. However, razors and box cutters like those used by the 2001 hijackers still are prohibited.
With a Swiss Army-style knife in hand, Markey announced the proposed legislation Tuesday at Boston’s Logan airport, the departure site for two of the four planes hijacked on 9/11.
TSA now will allow folding knives with blades no longer than 2.36 inches or wider than a half inch.
Also on Tuesday, American Airlines became the third major air carrier to oppose the TSA's changes. The company follows US Airways on Monday and Delta Air Lines last week.
“We urge you to reconsider the proposed policy before the stated implementation date,” US. Airways Chairman W. Douglas Parker wrote in a letter Monday to Pistole. Parker also said US Airways supports TSA efforts but suggested the changes were put forth without input from the carriers and flight crews, according to the letter, obtained by FoxNews.com
The first Republican co-sponsor on Markey’s No Knives Act is New York Rep. Michael G. Grimm.
The lawmakers are joined by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and several unions, including the Southwest Airlines' Flight Attendants Union, the 90,000-member Flight Attendants Union Coalition and the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association.
“So TSA thinks allowing something like this somehow doesn’t pose a risk?” Jon Adler, president of the officers association, asked Fox News on Friday. “Is there view that Americans in the cabin are expendable, disposable? … That’s nonsense.”
However, the Air Line Pilots Association, the largest airline pilots union in the world, supports the change.
Markey submitted the bill after sending a letter Saturday to the TSA in which he asked the agency to reverse the policy.
This is not first time he had opposed softening post-9/11 security measures. In 2005, Markey opposed the TSA allowing scissors on board.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.