(Adds vote count, statement from lone dissenting Senator)
WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed President Barack Obama’s choice of Peter Neffenger to be the next head of the Transportation Security Administration, the agency charged with securing U.S. airports.
Neffenger, a Coast Guard vice admiral, has been awaiting Senate approval since Obama nominated him in April. Once sworn in, he will take over the agency following reports that TSA screeners failed 67 out of 70 tests by undercover officers who were attempting to bring fake weapons past security checkpoints.
The Senate vote was 81-1, with the only dissenter Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a sharp critic of the agency who said it has failed to adequately address security lapses.
“While Admiral Neffenger is an impressive man, it is naive and dangerous to pretend installing one director can heal what ails TSA,” Sasse said in a statement. “The Department of Homeland Security needs to admit that it has a crisis of bureaucratic complacency - lacking an overarching vision and coherent measures of success and failure.”
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has ordered tighter procedures and more training for agency employees after reports this year that TSA officers missed mock explosives and weapons in covert tests and failed to find alleged terrorism links for dozens of airport workers.
In 2010 Neffenger oversaw U.S. efforts to deal with the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (Reporting By David Lawder; Editing by Lisa Lambert)