Washington (CNN) – Sen. Jim DeMint, the Republican lawmaker holding up the nomination for the Transportation Security Administration chief, blamed Senate Majority Harry Reid Tuesday for the delay, saying the Senate could have voted on his nomination "months ago."
DeMint told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux Tuesday that all he wants is "limited debate and a recorded vote" before Erroll Southers can become the new TSA chief.
"Unfortunately the president has been downplaying the threat of terrorism since he took office. He waited eight months to even nominate someone for this position, and then he wanted him approved with no debate or no vote," DeMint said. "Senator Reid could have done that months ago, but the fact is they've been working on other things and have not seen airport security as a priority."
Reid said Tuesday that he will force a vote on Southers' nomination as soon as the Senate returns from recess. Southers, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in September, is currently assistant chief of homeland security and intelligence at the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department.
DeMint has been holding up the nomination in an effort to prevent TSA employees from joining a labor union. He praised Obama for blaming the security lapse that allowed a terrorist suspect to board a plane on Christmas Day on systemic and human failure.
"While other Democrats are trying to find someone to blame for this, at least the president is saying it is the responsibility of his administration," DeMint said. "My hope is that he'll change his focus from politics to real security. There's no reason that we should be focusing the attention of our homeland security agency and airport security on collective bargaining with union bosses when we need to be upgrading to deal with threats all over the world."