A bill that would have made it illegal for airport security screeners to “grope” passengers appeared to die in the Texas Senate on Wednesday after federal officials warned it could lead to closing Texas airports and angry protesters were blocked from entering the Senate chamber.
State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, withdrew his bill because it didn’t have enough votes to pass, said Patrick’s spokesman, Logan Spence.
The proposal had earlier passed the Texas House. Specifically, it would have outlawed security screeners from touching a person’s genitals or private areas during pat-down searches.
Federal officials warned lawmakers that a state law would conflict with federal law and could lead to shutting down Texas airports.
U.S. Attorney John Murphy wrote in a letter to Texas lawmakers that the proposed law would “criminalize searches that are required under federal regulations,” the Austin American-Statesman reported.
A few dozen conservative Republicans who supported the bill rallied outside the Texas Senate and were blocked from entering by Texas state troopers.