In a statement, Southers outlines the reasons for his decision:
While I have more than thirty years experience in the law enforcement and homeland security environment, my experience in navigating Washington is admittedly limited. I came prepared as a law enforcement professional to outline my vision for strengthening the Transportation Security Administration and doing my part of make the homeland safer, but perhaps I did not prepare enough to address politically charged issues such as unionization. I understand that Senator DeMint has serious concerns about any effort to unionize the TSA workforce – and I respect that and tried unsuccessfully to meet with him about that – but ultimately that policy decision would have been made at levels in the Administration above me. I went into the hearings with an open mind about the union question with the intention of assessing its potential positive or negative impact after I addressed more pressing issues – primarily security vulnerabilities that exist in our aviation and transportation security. I am disappointed to have to withdraw my nomination, particularly in light of the aviation vulnerabilities that were apparent after the Christmas terror incident and at a time when TSA needs leadership more than ever.